Children As a Test From Allah

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One of the most fundamental concepts for a parent to understand is that children are a test and that through this test they will be held accountable on the Day of Judgment. Once this is realized, there should be a profound change in how they relate to and deal with their children. Allah (SWT) says, 


And know that your properties and your children are but a trial and that Allah has with Him a great reward) (Qur'an 8: 28)

He also indicates, 

your wealth and your children are but a trial, and Allah has with Him a great reward.  (Qur'an 64: 15)

The Arabic word that is used in these verses is fitnah, which is translated as 'trial' or 'test'. The world is full of trials since part of Allah's plan is to test His slaves with various tribulations and blessings. Children and families are part of this test. Allah does this so that the believer will be distinguished from the disbeliever and the truthful and sincere from the liars and hypocrites.

Allah (SWT) mentions, 

Do the people think that they will be left to say: We believe, and they will not be tried? But We have certainly tried those before them, and Allah will surely make evident those who are truthful, and He will surely make evident the liars. (Qur'an 29: 2-3)

Allah tests humans with both calamities and blessings to determine who will be patient and thankful and who will be impatient and ungrateful. He also wants to determine who will be His obedient servants and who will be disobedient and defiant. He will then reward or punish accordingly on the Day of Judgment.

The calamities with which Allah tests His slaves are many. He tests them with fear, hunger, and loss of wealth, lives and homes. He tests them with the inability to have children, among other things.

Allah (SWT) declares, 

And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient, who, when disaster strikes them, say: Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return. Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are [rightly] guided. (Qur'an 2: 155-157)

Out of Allah's mercy to His servants, He sends tribulations and tests so that they may return and repent to Him, giving up that which Allah has forbidden, and so that Allah might forgive them. It is part of Allah's mercy that tests occur in this life so that our souls might be purified and come back to Allah before we die. Allah (SWT) says, 

And we will surely let them taste the nearer punishment short of the greater punishment, that perhaps they will return [repent]. (Qur'an 32: 21)

Allah may also test His slaves in order to raise them in status and to allow them to expiate for their sins, as the Prophet (PBUH) said: (No misfortune or disease befalls a Muslim, no worry or grief or harm or distress - not even a thorn that pricks him - but Allah will wipe out some of his sins because of that.) The Prophet (SAW) also said: A Muslim male or female is tried in person and children and property until he or she faces Allah (on the Day of Judgment) in such a state that all of his or her sins have been forgiven.

What most people often forget is that blessings may also be a test or tribulation from Allah. Wealth and children, for example, are a trial and a trust by which Allah tests His servants to know who will give thanks for them and who will be distracted from Allah by them. The ease with which people become absorbed in their wealth, possessions and children demonstrates the nature of this test. These are facets of life that may distract people from the worship and remembrance of Allah.

The test is not only to show who will be grateful and who will be ungrateful, but also to determine how parents will raise their children. Will they treat them with kindness, love and respect? Will they raise them in Islam with all of the knowledge and blessings that it contains? Will they prepare them for the hereafter and for paradise? Or will they raise them with another system of beliefs and practices (such as other religions or secularism) that are contrary to Islam? Will they send them to the hellfire, along with themselves? This is the true nature of the test, as it is with all tests that Allah gives to us.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, too many people fail in this test that Allah has given them, or they attempt to avoid the test as much as possible. They may put their children in day-care for 40 or more hours a week or hire a live-in maid to take care of the physical and emotional needs of their children. Other aspects may be given precedence over the children, such as career, money, hobbies, or friendships. They may spend time and effort on other projects, but the children are often not given their due consideration. In today's world, many children have not received the time and attention that is due to them from their parents and society suffers as a result of this.

What parents fail to realize is that by neglecting their children and failing in this test from Allah, they may have missed a golden opportunity for eternal and spiritual rewards. The opportunity is right before their eyes, but they simply fail to take advantage of it. The job does require a lot of effort and hard work, but it is also one of the most rewarding tests that Allah could give His servants. Parenting is, above all else, a test of patience, selflessness, and sacrifice. Allah (SWT) says, 

Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while Allah has not yet made evident those of you who fight in His cause and made evident those who are steadfast?' (Qur'an 3: 142)

As a person excels in the test, these qualities become solidified and engrained. These are the qualities of eeman that parents strive to nurture not only in their children, but also in themselves. It is amazing that in the process of nurturing believing children, parents also 'nurture' themselves. The increase in eeman that is experienced through parenting will bring one closer to Allah and closer to an understanding of His infinite wisdom and mercy. What better opportunity to experience a taste of paradise in this life?

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