These are some of the methods of raising children used by our pious predecessors of the Ba `Alawi way, compiled by the grandson of the late Habib Muhammad al-Haddar (may Allah have mercy on him and be well-pleased with him), Sayyid Muhammad Abdullah Muhammad al-Haddar, may Allah preserve and protect him:
- Breastfeeding mothers would repeatedly recite Ayat al-Kursi, Surat al-Falaq and Surat al-Nas over their babies.
- When a child first began to speak it would be taught to say:
رَضِيتُ بِاللهِ رَبّاً، وبِالإِسْلامِ دِيناً، و بسيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ صلى الله عليه وسلم نَبِيَّاً ورَسُولاً
‘I am content with Allah as my Lord, with Islam as my religion, and with our Master Muhammad, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, as my Prophet and Messenger.’
- Parents would teach their children the importance of making good intentions and what intentions to make just as they would teach them how to recite Surat al-Fatihah.
- Parents would teach their children to call upon Allah in every situation. If a child asked for something, his parents would tell him to perform wudu, pray two rakats and then ask Allah to fulfil his need. After he had done this, they would give him what he wanted and tell him that Allah had answered his prayers.
- Each child would be allocated a specific task. For example, one child would buy things from the shops, another would clean the house and another would serve guests.
- Parents would wake up young children in the last part of the night to accustom them to being awake at that time. Fathers would take their young sons to the mosque at that time.
- Parents would hold family gatherings in their houses on a daily or weekly basis. They would recite a portion of the Qur’an and read from the books of fiqh and hadith. They would conclude the gathering with duas and salawat.
- Parents would gather their children together before blessed days or months, such as Ramadan, and ask them what good deeds they planned to perform. They would ask them, for example, how much of the Qur’an they would recite and how much charity they would give.
- When one of their sons reached maturity, the father would hold a gathering to which he would invite the scholars and elders of the community. He would inform his son that he was now legally responsible and that he now had two angels who were recording his good and bad deeds
- Parents would give more attention to the education of girls than boys because girls would spend the greater part of their time in the domestic sphere.
- Parents would marry their children off at a young age to ensure they did not commit any acts of disobedience.
Allah knows best. May Allah be pleased with them and benefit us by their secrets and allow us to follow them.