By: Abdul Adheem al-Muhtadi al-Bahrani
Question: Would you please do us a favor by showing the stages of the cultural growth of children in the light of the Islamic view?
The answer: There are four stages: First, the stage of suckling, which begins from birth and lasts until the child becomes a year and a half. In this period, the child receives his cultural growth through his attempts of success and failure. The mother must undertake her basic role in this important stage because the child is a deposit of Allah in her hand. If she does not help him to begin his life with the name of Allah, he will get to the Satan and the responsibility will be on her.
Second, the stage of childhood, which is composed of two periods: the first one begins after the year and a half of suckling up until the age of seven and the second period begins from the seventh year up until the twelfth.
The child learns in the first period – until the seventh year of his age – words, concepts, morals, and habits by watching and imitating. Therefore, those who are responsible for educating the child must pay close attention to this opportunity of teaching the child good morals and habits. These morals and habits can be noticed when the child imitates his father or mother in some of his plays such as the way of their speaking, gaits, and looking.
In the second period – until the twelfth year – the child begins analyzing meanings to comprehend bigger things. However, the family still has an effective role on his growth, but it is less than that of the first period because, in this age, the child is connected with school and classmates, and therefore, his presence among his family becomes less than before, and on the other hand, his mind opens for other things.
In this period, the child looks for a role model. It is very important for parents to either be good examples or find their child a good example to imitate. The socio-psychological studies have showed that most of the deviate youth and criminal men were, in this period, receiving their deviate and criminal lessons from their bad role models. Let parents beware that their children not take their role models, in this period from seven to twelve, from films or other programs that they watch.
Third, the stage of adolescence, which is from the twelfth until the eighteenth year. This is the most critical stage of growth that the Prophet (S) has described as “a kind of madness” and Imam Ali (a.s.) has said, “It is intoxication”.
The physical changes that take place in this stage are:
1. Quick growth; some changes take place in the outer shape of a man in this stage that cause a teenager to often look at himself in the mirror and ponder long over his new shape.
2. Change in the tone of a teenager’s voice to becoming rough and hoarse
3. Growth of the sexual lust; if a teenager is not instructed with the lawful and the unlawful concerning the matter of sex, he will become involved in sin.
The psychological changes are:
1. Excitement and nervousness
2. Secret thinking and pondering over what will happen
3. Feeling independent
The changes in the practical field:
1. Mutiny and objection
2. Taking occasional and sudden decisions without premeditation
3. Acting and then thinking
4. Taking famous persons as examples
5. Not accepting the supervision of others; a teenager does not tolerate the direct ordering or forbidding from his parents.
6. The desire of venturing and showing one’s personality
In this stage, the influence of parents on the youth weakens while the influence of the street, school, and the outside becomes strong. If parents spend the previous stages with their child in the correct way, they can easily, in this stage, connect their child with mosques, Islamic foundations, good scholars, and faithful friends to help them pass this stage without troubles; otherwise, the hands of the devils will snatch him to educate him with the culture of the people of Hell.
Fourth, the stage of youth, which begins after the eighteenth year when the storm of adolescence gradually calms down. Now, a young person begins his/her practical thinking of his/her scientific and professional future and thinks of choosing a spouse. This responsible state continues and becomes stronger after marriage and parenthood. Due to past and present cultural spheres, discernment and serious thinking emerge in one’s personality. The general social spheres and the cultural establishments surrounding man have a great effect on forming his personality.
Please explain the Islamic philosophy of education so that I may compare it to modern theories of education.
Question: I am a university graduate. I am married and have children. I have read books on education by non-Islamic authors. Would you please show me the educational dimensions in Islam so that I can compare what I have read with what you will deign?
The answer: First, I would like to invite you to read what our virtuous scholars have written in this field. They have written useful studies, and some of them have completed what others have written. Here, I am just noting for you some important bullet points followed by summaries. I would like to say: educating man with the perfect Islamic teachings requires paying great attention to all dimensions, beginning with the first moment when the sperm and the ovum convene, such as being in a state of purity, choosing a suitable night and a suitable hour (for sleeping together), being mentally calm, reciting supplications, beginning with the name of Allah, and seeking His protection from the Satan as detailed in certain religious books. As for after birth, there are four dimensions that must be kept in mind:
1. Bodily dimension
Great attention must be paid to the course of food, cleanliness, times of rest, and treatments of diseases before the rise of complications; otherwise, a child will be nervous and gradually become sick, introverted, and lacking in self-confidence.
2. Moral dimension
It means the ability to act according to the moral values. Without this ability, man’s actions will be away from the virtuous, moral values.
3. Social dimension
If a child is introverted or aggressive, it means he has had a weak social education and must then be taught the principles of social relations with others, such as respecting others, dealing with them peaceably, and not violating their rights.
4. Mental and intellectual dimension
This is a very important factor in educating a child and finding in him an open, delightful, and balanced mentality, because man’s knowledge and wide range of information enable him to comprehend different affairs.
The ground of these dimensions is formed in the stage of childhood if attention is paid to the aforementioned points. I hope that you will benefit more from what the virtuous scholars have detailed in their books about this matter.
We are exhausted in trying to raise upright children in light of all the challenges today; what should we do?
Question: I think educating children is one of the most difficult tasks in this time period, when we are surrounded with the cultural attacks of imperialism and corruption, when poverty and our worries about the futures of our children have increased, and likewise when the different diseases of this age have increased. All of this has made us exhausted in life. I think we are in a time where we have lost sight of the right way because of the many suspicious ways. Do you agree with me on this?
The answer: We confess that education in the past ages was much easier than it is in our present age due to some real reasons and facts. With this confession, we do not aim to submit to the negative sides of those reasons, but rather, we aim to understand them in order to undertake the legal responsibilities towards preventing their dangers. Here we would like to refer to these facts:
The first fact is technological development and the penetration of material means into man’s life, such as the television, telephone, video, computer, internet, fax, and different films, which enter houses and closed rooms via satellites.
The second fact is the increase and ease of the means of interrelations and communications between people, which make information and cultures intermingle with each other.
The third is the variety of people’s needs and their dissatisfaction with certain things. In other words, they are busy with fashions besides their desires to possess all that is new.
The fourth is the activities connected with the adventitious facts that have entered the lives of individuals and families and are followed by cultures and interests of the same kind.
The fifth is the prevalence of information, or what is called “the information explosion.” As soon as one understands a piece of news or an information, hundreds of news and information come to him to exhaust his mind, and then he cannot conceive which one is the most important or, in fact, he cannot distinguish between the important and the more important ones.
The sixth is the differences between tastes and tacts concerning the new things and facts mentioned above and their consequences. These differences cause disagreements, quarrels, and different problems that instigate in man a state of abandonment, resistance, and mutiny, even in intellectual and religious matters as is clear from the conducts of the youths of nowadays.
These facts are features of the globalization the universal arrogants offered to the nations at the beginning of the year 2000 to let them enter a third millennium full of moral corruption, perversion, and the diseaseful consequences that lead to mistrust of the beliefs, deviation, class-war, and social disassembly.
In our present age, man, due to these facts, suffers mental and physical exhaustion. He has no morale or power to communicate with his children or discuss with them their affairs and problems. This has a bad influence on the educational and sentimental affairs inside his family and on the private relations with his wife. Therefore, man has to know his time and its facts as carefully as he can, besides knowing his religion and the goal of his existence in the earth. Thus, he will be able to choose the way to success and be safe from becoming involved in the trap of imperialism. If we do not analyze things in the correct way, others will dissolve us with their ill analyses.