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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 - The Child and Theological Education

Article Index

The human beings are instinctively attracted towards God and religion. The fountainhead of this instinct is the human nature.

Allah says in the Holy Book:

“Then set thou thy face uprightly for ( the right) religion, in natural devotion to the truth(following) the nature caused by God in which He hath made the people" (Quran, 30:30)

Every child, by nature, is a worshipper of God, but the influence of the external environment might bring about change in this condition; as the Prophet of Islam has said:

"Every child is born with Islamic Nature, but later on the parents might make him a Jew, a Christian or a Zoroastrian" (Bihar al-anwar, v 3, p.281

It is the responsibility of the parents to give birth to their child in such an environment that the naturally endowed instinct of Religion in him is properly nourished. The day a child comes into this world, he is attracted towards the Power that will provide him his needs. But the child will not have his understanding developed to an extent to express anything about the Focus of its attention.

But, in stages, the understanding dawns on the child. A child, who gets his upbringing in a religious family, starts recognising Allah from around the age of four years. This is the age when different questions start cropping up in the mind of a child. Sometimes he utters the name of Allah. His questions indicate that his nature is awake and is keen to gather more and more information:

The child thinks about:

- Who made the sun? - Who has created the moon and the stars? - Does Allah love me? - Does Allah like sweet things? - Who brings the rain? - Who gave birth to Dad? - Is Allah listening to our talk? - Can we talk with Allah over the ‘phone? - Where does Allah live? - How is His face? - Does Allah live in the skies?

From the age of four years the child starts to think of thousands of such questions. It is evident from these questions that the instinct of Godliness is awakening in the child. By asking these questions he tries to quench his thirst for knowledge. It is not known, at that tender age, what opinion the child has of Allah.

He perhaps thinks that Allah is like his Dad, but is definitely bigger and more powerful. As the child grows, his understanding of Allah too grows. The parents shoulder a big responsibility at this stage. They have to play a very critical role in shaping the beliefs of their child. If the parents are a little negligent at this stage, then they will be subject to heavy retribution on the Day of Judgment. They must try to carefully answer all the questions their little child asks.

If they avoid answering the questions for some reason, they might cause the extinction of the child’s urge for discovery. But it may not be easy to answer all the questions of the child. The answers shall have to be correct, short and narrated in simple words. As the child grows, he will become capable of understanding more difficult information. The parents will have to prepare themselves to reply to the probable questions that the child might ask them. They should not give to the child any information that might be beyond his comprehension. Such answers might confuse the child instead of quenching his thirst for knowledge. The Theological education of the child should be such that he is able to grasp with ease.

Imam Jafer al Sadiq says:

“When the child is three years old, teach him to say ‘La ilaha illal Lah’ ( There is no god, but Allah). Then leave him alone. When he is three years, seven months and twenty days; teach him to say Mohammed ar Rasool Allah ( Mohammed is the Prophet of Allah). Leave him alone till he completes four years of age. Now teach him to say the salawat ( the praises) of the Prophet ( and his holy progeny)." (Makarim al akhlaq, v 1, p. 254)

Make the children learn to recite simple couplets about religious matters. This will be an interesting exercise for them. Then teach them about the Nubbuwat ( the Prophethood) and Imamat ( the Vicegerency). First the child must be told about the Prophet that he has been sent by Allah for the guidance of mankind. Then they must be told about the Prophet’s superior qualities and his exemplary way of life. Narrate to the child some interesting events of the Prophet’s life. Then the child must be told about the Vicegerents of the Prophet for the continuity of the correct guidance of his people after him. All this information should be conveyed to the child in the form of short narrations to retain his continued interest.

About Qiyamat ( the Doomsday ) a child does not give early attention. He thinks that he and his parents will live happily forever. Talking to a child about death at that tender age may not be desirable. The child thinks that the people who died have gone on a long journey. Sometimes tragedies do take place in the families while the children are still small. In these circumstances the parents have to discreetly broach the subject of death with them. If, unfortunately, the child’s Grandpa is dead, he might ask, ‘ MomWhere did Grandpa go?’

In such situations the facts must be explained to the child. The child can be told that his grand parent is no more. He has gone to the Other World. Every one who dies, goes to that World. If he were a good person in this life, he would rest in the Heaven where there are beautiful gardens. If the person who has died was a bad person in this life, he would go to the Hell which is full of fire. The child should be informed about the inevitability of death slowly. He must be told that this life is transient and everyone has to go to the Other World.

This informal instruction of the religious knowledge should continue till the child completes his primary, middle and higher levels of schooling.

The Child and the Religious Duties

It is true that the boys attain the age of responsibility (baligh) at fifteen and the girls at age nine. This is the age when the juridical norms become mandatory for them. But the performance of religious duties may not be postponed till the child reaches the age of responsibility. They must be encouraged to perform the religious duties from early childhood so that when they become compulsory, they would already be in the habit of fulfillling them. Fortunately, in families of religious people, a child starts to emulate its parents performing the religious rites.

Sometimes he spreads the prayer carpet for the parents, sometimes he puts down his head to the ground in supplication with the parent. He repeats Allah o Akbar ( God is Great) and La ilaha illa Lah with his parents. He will recite small religious couplets with his mother. The thoughtful parents make good use of this natural instinct of the child to emulate. If a child does these things, the parents give him a smile of appreciation. There should not be an element of force in making the child learn the religious rites.

The parents should not start formal teaching of the religious rites in early childhood. At the age of five the child can learn to recite the Sura al Faieha (The Opening) of the Holy Quran. This has to be done slowly in several days to keep the interest of the child in learning to do the recitation. At the age of seven the child should be asked to offer regular prayers. The parents should themselves set an example to the child by offering all the five prayers, regularly and punctually, at their appointed times.

At the age of nine years make it binding on the children to offer regular prayers. They should explain to the children that the prayers are mandatory when they are home and also when they travel. If the child abstains from praying, the parents should deal with him strictly. If the parents are themselves regular at offering their prayers, they can easily make the children habituated of following suit. When the children reach the age of responsibility, they will already be regular at offering the mandatory prayers.

If the parents take the excuse that the child is still too small, and they would teach him to pray when he comes of age, then it would be very difficult to initiate the child into regular prayers. It is a common belief that old habits are difficult to change. This is the reason that the Prophet of Islam and the Holy Imams have asked the parents to initiate the children to offer prayers from the six or seven years of age.

Imam Mohammed al Baqir says:

“We encourage our children start praying from the age of five years and at seven years we order them to pray five times a day regularly. " (Wasail al-shiah, v 3, p. 12)

The Prophet of Islam has said:

“When your children are six years old, order them to offer the prayers. When they are seven, ask them more strictly to be regular at prayers. If necessary, they must be punished if they don’t become regular in their prayers." (Mustadrak al-wasail, v 1, p. 171)

Imam Mohammed al Baqir or Imam Jafer al Sadiq has said:

“When the child is seven years old, then ask him to wash his face, the feet and the hands before offering prayers. But when he is nine years old, teach him the correct method of doing the Wadu ( the mandatory ablutions prior to offering prayers). This is the time when the child is strictly instructed to offer regular prayers." (Wasail al shiah, v 3, p. 13)

Imam Jafer al Sadiq says:

“When a child is six years old, then it is necessary he learns to offer prayers and if he is physically capable he must also be encouraged to fast during the month of Ramadhan." (Wasail al shiah, v 3, p. 12)

The child should be initiated slowly to fasting during Ramadhan. A child who is physically fit for fasting should be woken up at the time of sahr (the meal before sunrise), so that he eats at this time instead of the breakfast at the regular morning times. If the child is keen to fast the whole day, encourage him to complete it. But, if during the day, the child feels uneasy, he may be permitted to break his fast before time.

The number of fasts by the child may be increased gradually. When the child reaches the age of understanding, he must be instructed that offering regular prayers five times a day and fasting on all days during the month of Ramadhan is mandatory. If he is irregular in his compliance of these, he would be a sinner and liable to punishment by God.

The parents must explain to the child the advantages and the rewards of fasting during Ramadhan. This will give more courage to the child to do the fasting. During the last days of Ramadhan, make other duties lighter for the child. He must be allowed more hours of rest during the day. At the end of the fasting period, the child must be given some gift as an encouragement for his efforts. During the fasting period the parents should take care that the children don’t try to eat something hidden from others’ view.

It is necessary for the parents to instruct the children at the proper time about the wet-dreams they get at puberty. They must be instructed about doing the ghusl ( the mandatory cleansing bath after having an emission) and istinja ( the washing of the genitals with water after urinating).

It is necessary to remind here that if they wish their children to be regular visitors to the mosques and religious symposia, then they must put them into the habit from their childhood. They should take them to the mosque and the places of religious discourses. These visits will create interest in the children for going to the congregations.

In the end, it will not be out of place to remind that before reaching the age of understanding it is not mandatory on the child to observe the compulsory religious rites. If he is unable to perform certain rites at certain times, he is not committing any transgression. But it will not be proper for the parents to leave the children totally independent to do whatever they wish to. The child must be told that if in his innocence he causes any physical or bodily harm to others, he shall have to pay the Deeth ( the fine for harming others) when he reaches the age of understanding.

On the other hand if the child is left free without any checks whatsoever, he might get into the habit of committing sins and wrong acts. The dictum is: ‘Old habits die hard’ The habits cultivated during the childhood remain with the person, however much one tries to banish them. Therefore it is necessary for the parents to instruct the children about the dos and don’ts from their very early days. They must stop them from doing taboo acts and encourage them to do good deeds.

Political and Social Thinking

Today’s children are the youth of tomorrow. They will run the affairs of the society in the future. Their awareness and understanding of the political compulsions of the country will be of great importance. They will be the keepers of the cultural and economic wealth of the nations. They will have to strive maintaining and advancing the greatness of their homeland. They will have to face the imperialist aggressors and fight against their machinations. The children should therefore be groomed from their early days to be ready to serve their country. The greatest responsibility will rest on the shoulders of the parents to groom their children properly.

The foundation for the political and sociological training has also to be laid in the childhood of a person. By the time a child reaches the stage of youth, he should be aware of the social and political problems of the community in which he lives. He should be made aware of the poverty and backwardness rampant in his country. The good qualities and failings of the rulers of the day have to be informed to the child who is on the threshold of youth.

They should be told about the lacunae in the running of the society. He should know the general conditions prevailing in the towns and the countryside. The child may still not have the adult franchise and he cannot cast his vote. But the parents must explain to him the purpose of the election and the conduct thereof. They should also explain to him as to how to select the best candidate from the list of persons contesting in that area. The parents must give the child their own example that they voted for a particular candidate because of certain qualities he has. The child can attend the election meetings and processions.

He can join in raising slogans. He may distribute leaflets of the candidate he thinks is deserving of being elected. This work will give boost to his awareness. The Iranian Revolution has proved that the children and youth can contribute meaningfully in the political process of a country. They were the youth who, with their slogans, meetings, protests and active participation made the oppressive regime surrender. They relieved the oppressed people of Iran from the clutches of the agents of the tyrannical Shah’s minions. The world knows that the Iranian Revolution succeeded because of the supreme sacrifices made by the youth of the nation.

It is necessary that the children study the political situation of their country, in particular, and of the world, in general. They can do this by cultivating the habit of reading a good newspaper everyday. The can also watch and listen to the news bulletins on the television and the radio. They can also have group discussions with their parents and friends. This way they can develop interest in the welfare of their countrymen and themselves. This process will help the child develop good political and social awareness.

The future of the country, no doubt, will be in their hands and the hands of myriad other youths of the land. The children should know that the worldly life cannot be separated from the Hereafter, and, similarly, the Faith from the political process also could never be separated. The youth of the country should be actively associated with the political and social happenings of the country. The youth must be given more freedom of choice to participate in the political process of the nation.

The Child and the Radio and Television

The radio, television and cinema are very useful inventions. They can be very good tools for training and education. The tenets of faith and moral values can be propagated through these media. The thoughts of the people can be sharpened by means of these mediums. Information on agricultural and industrial developments could be disseminated through them. Awareness on the aspects of health and sanitation can be popularised through these media.

Man can derive innumerable benefits from the electronic media. But while they have advantages, they have many disadvantages for the society too. When these media fall into the hands of irresponsible profiteers, they can put them to wrong use and create tremendous problems for the society. For their personal benefit they present programmes which are harmful to the health, morals, faith and the general economy of the society. Radio and television are very widely and intensively used these days. Most people consider them only as a source of entertainment and recreation. The children and youth are literally addicted to the idiot box.

Knowledgeable people are of opinion that the Iranian children are much more addicted to the television than the children in the developed countries like America, France, Great Britain and Japan. In Iran 40% television viewers are children, 20% youth and the rest adults. It must be remembered that the childhood and youth are the prime time for education and learning. Whether the radio and television programmes are good or bad, they will have impact on the impressionable minds of the children.

Watching these programmes should not be considered as harmless pastime. The child should not be given freedom to watch or listen to all the programmes of his choice. Many programmes will definitely be harmful to the psyche of the child. The producers of the television and radio programmes should do introspection about the damage they are causing to the delicate minds of the children by presenting shows that are very harmful for the children and youth.

For them it may be the freedom of expression that drives them to their irresponsible act, but for the children and the youth, viewing these shows with keen interest, it will be sheer damnationThe parents too are responsible that they must keep a careful watch over their children’s viewing of the television shows and stop them from watching bad programmes.

A major part of the television programming will consist of movies and serials dealing with stories of crime, horror, murder, fights, cheating, robbery etc. The children watch such programmes with great interest. These stories can be harmful to the children in many ways. For example:

1. The impressionable and delicate minds of the children are very proactive to outside influences. Watching such shows the children may develop restlessness, fear and horror in their minds. They may have disturbed sleep in the nights and get up shouting after seeing bad dreams. They may start getting chronic headaches. In extreme cases, on watching the horror movies they may swoon and fall unconscious.

2. There can be very damaging effects of such movies on the morals of the children who watch them. These movies can motivate the children to commitment of crime and sins. Sometimes the children are so much impressed with the bravado of the hero of the movie that they try to emulate him in real life and land into trouble.

UNESCO has recorded in one of it’s reports that 27% of youth convicted for crimes were motivated for the act after watching similar acts in the movies. In the United States of America, amongst the juvenile criminals convicted by the courts, 10% of the boys and 25% of the girls have confessed to have drawn their motivation for the crimes from the movies they had watched (Majalla Maktab Islam, v 15, Issue No.1!).

According to another survey, 49% of criminals caught carrying illegal firearms, commit 28% of those who commit burglaries and 21% of acts of running away from the law derived inspiration from what they have watched in the movies. It is also reported that 25% of women who take to street walking have taken inspiration from the movies showing such stories. 54% of women have gone into houses of ill repute in emulation of famous cinema actresses. (Majalla Maktab Islam, v 15, Issue 11.

Professor Walksman of the University of Los Angeles says:

“The radiation coming out of the television screen is very harmful for the human organs. The rays coming out of the television and other household electronic appliances are of the short wave variety and the first ill effect is that they cause headaches to those who are exposed to them for longer spells. The thinking capacity of the person will be curbed, the blood pressure will become abnormal and the white corpuscles in the blood will be affected. These waves will have lot of impact on the nerves and cause several illnesses. (Majalla Maktab Islam, v 18, Issue 1)

Dr Alexis Carl writes:

The radio, television and inappropriate computer games destroy the emotions of the children." (Majalla Maktab Islam, v 15, Issue 3

The Daily Ittelaat in its Issue No.15743 reports about a European student thus:

“A college student aged 18 years was arrested and produced in the court. He is accused of kidnapping the son of a film actor and demanding for a ransom of $ 50,000 and threatened to kill the child if the ransom money was not paid to him. In his statement to the court the accused confessed that the thought of committing the act came to his mind on watching a movie on the televisions depicting a similar act. .

The police is of opinion that several such instances have come to their notice that the youths get motivated to commit crimes on watching movies on the television. A ten years old boy in Mashad , after watching a Karate show on the television, kicked his friend so hard that boy collapsed instantaneously and died. (Majalla Maktab Islam, v 15, Issue 11)

The Deputy Minister for Education and Training, Mr. Safi Niya says:

"When the television is there to effectively provide evil lessons, the best of teachers cannot do anything!" (Majalla Maktab Islam, v 18, Issue 1)

One Cuban boy, Ronny Zamora, murdered a 83 years old woman. He did this crime in Florida and is now serving a life sentence in a gaol there. His parents have sued three American television channels for damages to the tune of $2,500,000. He has produced evidence that the child had learnt about manslaughter from the television programmes. Last September there was a hearing of the case in the Court when it was mentioned that when the child was small he was very fond of watching television and used to sit in front of it for eight hours at a stretch. A night before the crime, the youth watched a movie on the television where robbery at a rich woman’s house was depicted.

A pretty girl of fifteen years, whose name was Razaia, watched a horror movie on the television. She was so horrified watching the movie that she fell down dead on the ground. When she saw in the movie that a white person was scalping the skin of the head of a black girl in the movie, she shouted in horror and had sudden cardiac arrest. The doctors said that she had a brain haemorrhage.

Dr Jalal Baremani, an expert in psychiatry says:

"The horror and adventure movies have a negative impact on the minds of the children. It is noticed that a child watching a film depicting violent acts tried to imitate the hero and beats his brother or sister. Such movies can have a very negative effect on the future personality of the child. Watching horror movies the children become timid and cowardly. Violent movies motivate them to become violent themselves. The effects of these exposures will be there in the minds of the persons, and they might themselves get motivated to commit violent acts.

Another psychiatrist, Dr. Shukr Allah Tariqati says:

“The effects of watching bad movies on the minds of children cannot be denied. These movies have such negative effect on the children that when they grow into adults, they might themselves commit wrong acts under the influence of the movies they had seen long ago. .I therefore advise the parents not to allow their children to see such bad movies. They should take particular care to see that the children don’t watch movies made and certified to be watched by adults only. They should ensure that the children don’t watch any movies shown on the television after 10 PM. These are generally adult movies.".

A professor of the Tehran University, and Criminologist, Dr Reza Mazloomi says:

“Most of the movies shown on the television and cinema houses are harmful for our society. Their effects are so dangerous that watching a movie, a girl lost her life due to cardiac arrest seeing a horrible scene. I can put it boldly that most of the crimes and acts of terror in this world are directly related to the effects of watching movies." (Daily Ittelaat, 10 Aban, 1352)

Dr Arnold Fremani, who works in a hospital at New York, has proved with advanced electronic gadgets that the migraine headaches and nervous weaknesses in persons are due to listening to blaring music on the FM Radio stations. (Majalla Maktab Islam, v 15, Issue 3)

The Newspaper, The Times, in one of its issues of 1964 writes:

"A paediatric doctor, made observations at two airforce bases that the children of the staff in the age group of three to twelve years continuously complained of headaches, sleeplessness, insomnia and tummy troubles like diarrhoea. Medically, they were not able to establish any cause for the symptoms. After a detailed investigation it was established that the children spend long hours in front of the television screens. The doctors recommended that the children should be stopped from watching the television. This regime was effective that the complaints like headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea in the children had tapered off. (Paiwandhai Kudak wa Khanwada, p. 131)

The thoughtful parents who love their children should not allow them to watch television for long hours, particularly in the nights. They should allow them to watch only such programmes that are not harmful to their spirit and mind.

The Gender Problems

Sexuality is one of the most sensitive instincts of the human nature. This in fact is a highly constructive instinct of the human race. It will have both positive and negative effects on the psychological and physiological life of the human beings. Many acts of the human beings and the causes of several physical and psychological ailments can be attributed to this instinct.

If the upbringing of the individual takes place in a proper and thoughtful manner, the instinct of sex can prove a boon for the welfare and contentment of the person. But if the upbringing is in an atmosphere of lechery, lasciviousness and excesses, there is every probability that the instinct of sexuality might become the cause of many physical and psychological aberrations that can become definite cause of ultimate destruction of the person in this life and Hereafter.

It is not proper to think that the instinct of sexuality manifests itself only after puberty. The instinct will be present in every individual since birth; however, it remains dormant for quite some time. Even then, it manifests itself at different times during the childhood in a subtle way. Sometimes small children fondle their genitals and feel pleasure. This creates in them a sort of emotion. They feel the pleasure when the parents caress and kiss them.

They feel attracted towards beautiful persons and things, and sometimes they express these feelings in words too. At the age of two or three years the children start distinguishing between boys and girls and look at one another’s private parts with deep interest. When they grow up a little, they are attracted to beautiful pictures. They look at them with surprise. Sometimes they might utter bad words. They start showing inclination towards the opposite sex.

They try to have the attention of the persons of the opposite gender. Sometimes, they even ask the parents questions concerning sex. They try to eavesdrop over the whisperings of the parents. They like to sit with friends in a quiet corner and exchange secrets. All these go to prove that the children have within them the latent instinct of sex that tries to find expression in their actions. Without proper guidance and knowledge, the instinct keeps driving the children. They won’t know what they want. Their only attention is to derive pleasure from any source. But they don’t know how to get this pleasure. Till the age of ten to twelve years the children continue in this state of suspense. From the age of twelve to fifteen, the instinct of sexuality dawns on them with speed.

Responsible parents will not be oblivious of this instinct of their children. They cannot continue without devising a strategy to properly handle the matter. Sex education is one of the most difficult and delicate aspects of the education of children. Slightest mistake or neglect on the part of the parents might push the children into the abyss of destruction.

The parents should focus their attention towards the fact that prior to puberty the children won’t have the faculty of procreation. Therefore God has kept the instinct of sex latent in them. It is in the best interest of the children that their instinct of sexuality does not have a premature awakening. If this happens prematurely, the child will suffer many types of social stigmas and physical ailments.

The parents must abstain from everything that might provoke the sex instinct in the children. They must provide to them such healthy environment that their minds don’t get diverted towards premature expression of sex instinct. The thoughtful parents can themselves decide what is desirable for the children and what is not. But here we are mentioning a few of the things that the parents would like to keep in their minds. They should discreetly ensure that the children don’t touch their private parts, they don’t look at pictures of models in the magazines, listen to love ditties and watch romantic movies, praise good looks and beauty of others, stare at beautiful faces and exposed limbs of others, intently listen to bawdy jokes or courtship of the parents or other elders.These and many other attractions might cause a flutter in the sex instinct of the child.

The parents should not allow children of five to six years of age to live unattended. They might sometimes play with each other’s private parts and emotions might awaken in them. The children should not be allowed to lie in their beds when they are awake. Have separate beds for children of the age of six years. If the children sleep on the same bed, their bodies might rub against each other and give rise to the sex instinct. The parents should not make children of five to six years of age sleep with them in the same bed. This should be particularly so in the case of a child of the opposite sex. Even the mother should not rub her body with the body of her six –year-old daughter.

The Prophet of Islam has said:

“When the child reaches the age of seven years, arrange a separate bed for him." (Makarim al akhlaq, v 1, 256)

Imam Sadiq narrates from his ancestors:

“The women and children of ten years must have separate individual beds." (Wasail al shiah, v 14, p. 268)

"If a mother rubs her body against the body of her own daughter, she is doing a sort of molestation." (Wasail al shiah, v 14, p. 170)

“A man should not kiss his six year old daughter, and a woman should not kiss her seven year old son." (Wasail al shiah, v 14, p. 170)

It is a practice in many households that the women move around in partially revealing dresses. Many men too are not far behind in this. They will have loincloth up to their knees and keep moving around in the house with the sons and daughters present. They think that they are all members of the same family and Mehrum, or close relations, from whom the women don’t have to hide.

The parents also think that their exposed limbs will not affect their children and that they are still very young to be conscious of any such thing. They think that their daughters’ breasts not covered with a cloth ( chador ) and exposed limbs will not affect their son in any way. This they think because the children are brother and sister to one another. This is not the right thinking. The instinct of sex is one of the strongest instincts and when aroused it may not allow the person to think of any relationship.

Ali, The Commander of the Faithful, says:

“It is very much possible that at a glimpse the instinct of love and sex might awaken." (Gharar al hukm, p. 416)

Such mercurial urges might become the cause of grave consequence to the innocent children. Perhaps in such circumstances the child might commit rape or incest. For any such thing the parents will be squarely responsible for their careless attitude.

Here it will be in place to quote the writing of an intellectual:

“For the psychic welfare of the children, we should not expose our bodies to them. Sometimes the children might peep through the crevices in the bathroom door while we are bathing. or changing our clothes. We must ensure that the children don’t develop such habits." (Paiwand hai Kudak wa Khanwada, p. 177)

This is true that the parents are Mahram for their children and can live in the same house together. But the parents should not sacrifice the collective rights of the children for their pleasure and freedom. This way they would be exposing their children to ruination. As a consequence their lives will be condemned to shame and melancholy.

A person’s thigh was exposed from his robe. The Prophet noticed this and said.:

“Hide your thigh, because it is one of the things that shall not be exposed to others." (Mustadrak al-wasail, Hakim, v 4, p. 181.

It is not proper that a four years old son takes a shower along with his mother. Similarly a four years old daughter should not bathe with her father. The children and youth should not remain alone doing nothing. Loneliness might create the urge for masturbation. The private parts of a small boy must be kept covered, not exposed, to his other siblings. Never use abusive invectives with the children. The husband and wife should not sleep on one bed in the presence of their children. They should not play pranks on each other while the children are around.

One problem of a couple with children is the sexual relations between the man and wife. It is a right of the couple to sleep together. But when there are a few children in the family, there will be the problem of having some privacy. Any way, they should continue their private relationship without giving a hint about it to the children. Otherwise there will be the danger of the sexual urge rising in the children and, at their age, it would be prone with horrible consequences.

Imam Jafer al Sadiq says:

“The husband should not go near his wife while the child is in their bed room. Otherwise it will be like committing a rape." (Wasail al shiah, v 14, p. 94

The Prophet of Islam has said:

“By Allah! someone copulates with his wife when his child is in the room, and the child looks at them and hears their sound, then that child will never prosper. Be it a girl or a boy, either will get besmirched in adultery ( for the mere observation of the act)."

Whenever Imam Zain ul Abidin wanted to be near his spouse, he used to send out his servants, bolt the door from inside and put down the curtains. (Wasail al shiah, v 14, p. 94)

The Prophet of Islam has prohibited man coming near his wife when the little baby looks at them from the cradle. (Mustadrak al-wasail, v 2, p. 546)

Therefore the husband and wife who have a child, should not be as unrestricted as they used to be before getting the child. To guard the chastity of the children, the couple should keep their conjugal life totally away from their view. This may not be so easy a process. But they have no other alternative. They should not think that the child is innocent and will not comprehend anything at that age. But to the contrary, the children are very sharp. They will deduce their own conclusions from what they observe.

They will be inquisitive to know what the parents do in privacy. Sometimes even they pretend to be asleep to know and see what is going on. They also try to peep from behind the doors and curtains. It is better if the parents have a secure, private room for themselves in the house. As far as possible this room should be at some distance from the children’s quarters. The children should be trained to announce their arrival when they enter the parents’ room. The parents should avoid their conjugal affairs when the children are around at home, or until they have not soundly gone to sleep.

A Western intellectual writes thus:

“Most modern dwellings are made in such a way that the planners overlook the privacy for the conjugal relations of the inmates. In fact the homes these days can be termed as the dwellings that are against sexual requirements of the dwellers. Most homes or apartments are such that there is no provision of separate bedroom for the parents. And if they are there, the walls of the rooms are so thin that the children living in the next room can hear even if the children whisper sweet nothings to each other. .It is a bitter fact that because of not having a proper place for their conjugal life, the parents will have a suffocated existence." (Paiwand hai Kudak wa Khanwada, p. 176)

But one disadvantage of the parents sleeping in a separate bedroom is that they will not know what the children are up to. Particularly when there is a slightly grown up boy and there is also a girl in the group of the children. In this situation leaving the children together in one room may not be advisable. In a situation of this type, the parents may have to sacrifice their own convenience. If the parents have to sleep with the children in the same dormitory, they should use separate beds. For their conjugal satisfaction they shall have to find a quiet corner late in the night when all the kids have gone to sleep. When the parents are responsible persons and they have the will, they can find solution to the problem without much difficulty.

Allah says in the Holy Quran:

“O ye who believeLet those whom your right hands possess and those of you who have not reached puberty seek permission of you three times (a day) (ere they come into your presence) before the morning prayer, and when ye lay aside your garments for the heat (at midday), These are the three times of privacy for you; It is neither for you nor for them a sin (if) after those (three times) ; some of you go round attending upon the others; Thus doth God maketh clear unto you the signs; and God is all-Knowing, All-Wise." (Quran, 24:58)

Before puberty the children ask direct and indirect questions about sex. Some parents avoid such questions. For example they say:, ‘Keep quietDon’t ask such silly questions!’ ‘ These things don’t concern you!’ ‘You will understand everything when you grow up!’

They can momentarily quieten the children with these vague replies.But some parents do give replies to the child’s questions. But these answers too are wrong and contrary to the facts. The child subtly understands that the parents are not telling the truth to him.

Both the above attitudes are wrong. Because the child is asking questions out of his thirst for knowledge, and if he is not given a proper reply, he might be more inquisitive and might get information from other quarters that may not be in his best interests. Fortunately, the questions asked by the children about sex prior to puberty are not so complicated that answering them could be very difficult for the parents.

The one question that troubles every child is the difference between the private parts of a boy and a girl. A child fully understands that there is difference between his private part and that of his sister. But he wants to know, why this difference?. Sometimes he fears that he has some defect in himself that he is not like his sister.

At other times he thinks that the sister is defective. He wants to know the cause for the difference and asks for an explanation from the parents. It is the duty of the parents to give a satisfactory reply to the child. They must tell him that all boys are made like him and all the girls are like his sister. Then the boys grow up to be fathers and the girls grow into mothers. They will have the children of their own and the cycle will thus go on and on.

You need not imagine for a moment that the child wants to know all the facts about sex in one go. He wants to get the answer only for what he has in his mind at that moment. Neither anything more, nor less than itBefore a child reaches the age of understanding, he must be informed about sex to the extent it is absolutely necessary and within his easy comprehension. If you don’t reply to his queries, he might pick up harmful details from the elder urchins in the neighbourhood or from the other boys at school. If you guide the child properly, he will be safe from damaging information from other quarters.

When your child attains puberty, and you know that his sexual instinct has awakened to an extent, and there is speedy metamorphosis in him, then at an appropriate moment you must inform him thus:

When children grow up, they will have a desire to have a companion. The girls like boys as companions and the boys like the girls. There is no harm in this. But, if the companion is pious and gentle, then it will be fortunate for both the boy and the girl. Otherwise, a bad companion for a person can be a curse for him or her.

After marriage the responsibilities multiply many times. The expenses on the wife and, when the children arrive, the expenses keep mounting. All these responsibilities have to be borne by the husband. You too must complete your education properly that you settle into a good job. Then we can arrange your marriage. Work hard at your studies. If you are a capable person, people will like you and you can get a good bride for yourself.

Beware of masturbation. It is a sin. It is also harmful for a person’s health. A person who does it, may not be suitable marriage later on.

Avoid bad company and don’t pick the habits of bad friends. Some of these habits destroy a person. "

When children grow, they start getting furze in their armpits and the pubic area. The children get scared seeing this for the first time. Guide them appropriately. Explain to them the method of removing the unnecessary hairs. The girl starts getting menses. When she sees the blood stains on her clothing, she gets scared. Guide her about the periodic menstruation that a girl gets after puberty. Her breasts start growing, some girls get worried about this development too.

Similarly when the son shows the signs of puberty, he will see disturbing dreams in his sleep. During the dreams his emotions will rise and ejaculation will come. Sometimes, innocent and ignorant, children think that they have some serious disease. Sometimes they think that they are committing a sin. They worry and keep the matter to themselves as a closely guarded secret. In such times, it is the duty of the parents to prepare the child in advance.

The mother should take the daughter into confidence and explain to her that getting hair in certain regions of the body and bleeding periods with the onset of puberty are normal phenomena for girls. She must teach the daughter about the personal hygiene during these periods and the method of cleansing after the period is over. She must also be told that during the periods she should not observe fasts nor should she offer her mandatory prayers. The Ramadhan fasts that she has missed during the period, she can observe later on, at her convenience.

The father too should tell to his son that he is a grown up person now. He will get hair in his arm-pits and the pubic region. He will experience emotional dreams with ejaculation. This is a normal phenomenon with all boys who have attained puberty. He needn’t worry about this. Whenever he ejaculated in his dream, he will have to take the mandatory cleansing bath. The father should explain to the son the method of taking the cleansing bath. In this way the parents can put the minds of their children, who are at the threshold of adult life now, at rest.