It’s not just what to say, but when to say it
Source: Inspiring Character.
Most are familiar with this saying of Muhammad (ﷺ) to the young Ibn Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him): “O young boy…protect Allaah and Allaah will protect you. Protect Allaah and you will find Allaah in front of you…“ What is interesting, apart from the content, is the context. Ibn Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) is the younger cousin of Muhammad (ﷺ) and had on many occasions spent the night in the house of the Prophet (ﷺ).
One would imagine that the best time to say such an important Prophetic advice is indeed at home, in the quiet hours of the night, when there are not outside distractions, and probably when Ibn Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) is in a better condition to “memorize and reflect“? Rather, Muhammad (ﷺ) chose another setting: when both were in a journey together.
To Muhammad (ﷺ) it was not about the place but the time. Children are certainly happier when they are outside the house, and in a journey with someone they love. It’s in this context of a child’s joy, even if with outside distractions, that Muhammad (ﷺ)spoke!
Moreover, there is also a clear example of what is called in parent literature ‘bonding’. Muhammad (ﷺ) rather than keeping quiet during the journey, or better engaging in Allaah’s remembrance, he spoke to the child. Many parents think that their parenting job is simply taking their children to eat out or go to the funfair, and leave them eating or playing alone, while the parent is checking his/her mobile, emails, WhatsApp and, yes, Facebook!
I am not saying that you have to necessarily talk to your child about specific religious issues, maybe sometimes not, but about just talking to him/her. Making him/her feel that you genuinely care about and love, by a simple conversation or non interrogative open ended questions. This is what is meant by ‘bonding‘.
Ibn Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) was not just conveying to us the saying of the Prophet (ﷺ), which of course he was, but also subtly telling us, how dear he was to Muhammad (ﷺ)!
Dr Hesham Al-Awadi