Ibn Abbas once said “ the one I respect the most is the one sitting before me- he who stepped over people’s necks until he sat before me. If I were capable of preventing a single fly from landing on his face, I would have done so”
The greatest practitioners of Tarbiyah impart their own wisdom and learned experiences, thus giving tools to deal with certain situations to those under their care. Whether they are Quran teachers, parents, caregivers or older siblings, they have mastered the art of delivering criticism without breaking confidence, sharing experiences in a way to send a message and modelling self-respect for themselves and others.
Seeing as the home is the first place where someone receives their education about their place in the world, it is here where we must confront pathologies that disenfranchise and oppress children. As the role of parents is sanctified in our faith we have a responsibility to exercise the honour that Allah gave parents judiciously, and be careful to not use this position to harm our children. For example, instead of listening to our young ones, we may quickly label their complaints as disrespect and ingratitude, and then use the ayat of Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى to silence them. What we don’t think about is how this firstly shapes the perception that children have of Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى and His religion, and they may think that their thoughts and opinions cannot be expressed because parents are always right. This can create confusion and conflict in the child’s mind and this behaviour can make the child question the very meaning of Islam. It can also build resentment in the child towards their caregiver, and frustrate the parental influence in the child’s life. Tarbiyah is about acknowledging the humanity of all groups, including those that we don’t belong to. When we respect the one’s in our care, we acknowledge their rights, and their worthiness of respect. But in order to pass that lesson on, we must begin with ourselves and walk in our own autonomy and dignity. If we don’t govern ourselves by principles of justice, accountability, how can we morally educate our children to work towards peace and faith outside? True Tarbiyah begins with people confronting themselves and as teachers to the new generation we have to model what that looks like in our lives if we hope to reap the fruits of our work in the afterlife.
Verily the merchandise of Allah is valuable; surely the merchandise of Allah is paradise
sunan al Tirmidhi
adab al Mufrad 1145-46