Dear Fathers, You Are Not The Babysitter

A new mom recently asked:

“Imam Zaid, in our communities it is fairly common for some men to ‘babysit’ their children rather then taking an active role in parenting alongside their wives. How do you address this issue?”

The first thing to mention is that this is un-Islamic.

This approach to child rearing is against the Quran and Sunnah. The Prophet Muhammad (sallahu alayhi wa sallam) was present throughout the entire childhood of all his children. He was not migrating, nor engaged in nomadic lifestyle. He was settled in Mecca and Medina.

Understand being settled does not mean a father is actively involved. The Prophet (sallahu alayhi wa sallam) was settled and involved in all aspects of his children’s lives.

There are many hadiths where Prophet Muhammad (sallahu alayhi wa sallam) would play with his children, and children of the Sahabah. He would line them up for races, wrestle with them, and carry them. He would involve them in various activities and sometimes allow them to sit with elders of the Quraysh. The love he showed towards his grandson Hasan asking Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) to shower him with his love, is just one example of his fondness for children.

Narrated Abu Huraira (radhiallahu anhu):

“Once the Prophet (sallahu alayhi wa sallam) went out during the day. Neither did he talk to me nor I to him till he reached the market of Bani Qainuqa and then he sat in the compound of Fatima’s house and asked about Hasan but Fatima kept the boy in for a while. I thought she was either changing his clothes or giving the boy a bath. After a while the boy came out running and the Prophet (sallahu alayhi wa sallam) embraced and kissed him and then said, ‘O Allah! Love him, and love whoever loves him.’

So this is our example..

Tariq Toure

This is the example that Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) has presented for us. An example that we should follow and know. Know that if we consciously with no necessity avoid or abandon our responsibilities as men, we are giving more weight to the sociological realities of America then we are to the sunnah of our beloved Prophet (sallahu alayhi wa sallam).”

Children are a sacred trust given to us by Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala).

Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) reminds us in the Quran,

” Verily Allah commands you that you deliver the trust to their rightful possessions…..” (Surah Nisaa: 58 ).

Hence, we need to stand up as true men, lest we meet Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) on the Day of Judgment knowing we have failed to implement this most vital command.

Be a Father.


About Imam Zaid

Imam Zaid Shakir

Imam Zaid is the Co-Founder, Board of Trustees and Senior Faculty Member at Zaytuna College located in Berkeley, CA. The New York Times describes him as a “leading intellectual light”. In the 500 Most Influential Muslims by John Esposito and Ibrahim Kalin, Imam Zaid is ranked as one of the most influential scholars in the world.

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