In the Name of Allaah, the Most Merciful the Bestower of Mercy
Allaah [Glorified and Exalted be He] said:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَأَهْلِيكُمْ نَارًا وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ عَلَيْهَا مَلَائِكَةٌ غِلَاظٌ شِدَادٌ لَّا يَعْصُونَ اللَّهَ مَا أَمَرَهُمْ وَيَفْعَلُونَ مَا يُؤْمَرُونَ
O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded. [Soorah Tahreem: Ayah: 6]
The meaning of ”O you who believe”: Some of the pious predecessors said that if you hear the statement of Allaah ‘’O you who believe’‘, then listen attentively because it is either something good you are being commanded or something forbidden you are being prohibited from.
And regarding the statement ‘’Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell)”; This cannot be achieved except by fulfilling the commandments of Allaah and keeping away from what He has forbidden. This is what the statement ‘’Ward off from yourselves’’ means-by fulfilling the rights of Shahaadah ‘None has the right to be worshipped except Allaah’’; by worshipping Allaah [alone], acquainting yourself with Tawheed and free the Shahaadah from all that either negates it or that which negates the obligations it necessitates. [Likewise], free the Shahaadah from innovations in the religion which are a belittlement of it and the sins that diminishes its worth. Likewise, [the statement Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah’ has rights], and that is to fulfil what the Messenger [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] commanded and keep away from everything he has forbidden, and that your worship of your Creator is carried out in accordance with what the Messenger [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wsallam] legislated.
And also regarding the statement, ‘’Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell)’’: It is well known that children are the most important part of the family, therefore you must take up a shield of protection against the fire to protect your children and those under your care. And what is this protection? It is the advice and guidance you give them about that which will benefit them- teaching them what is beneficial and correct by way of which Eemaan is nurtured in the hearts and by way of which they will come to know the rights of their Creator and the rights of their parents. This is the meaning of ‘’Ward off yourselves and your families a Fire [hell]’’- by advising, guiding, teaching and distancing them from everything that will hold them back [from goodness, uprightness etc.].
We said that children are the most important part of the family, so they must be taught what benefits them and are distanced from evil companions. Teaching them necessitates that which the Book and the Sunnah necessitates in their religious affairs, so that they are nurtured upon a sound, beneficial and good nurturing. And we do not say that it is prohibited to study the beneficial worldly sciences because the religion of Islaam does not prohibit it, such as the knowledge of medicine, economics, business and its likes. However, these affairs come after rectification of the creed and after being [acquainted with] the knowledge of Tawheed. This is what is specified as an obligation.
And protecting the family [necessitates] that you distance your children from evil companions- those who have no goodness in them, such as the atheists or those Bedouins who are distanced from their religion. Therefore, you must warn your children about mixing with them and you must strive to [make sure that] they do not mix with them. If your child mixes with them, their evil practices will affect him. Even if your child is sensible, he will adopt some of their manners and deeds due to those evil companions. When a healthy she camel intermingles with a camel afflicted with scabies, it will be afflicted with scabies; or when someone intermingles a lot with a camel afflicted with scabies, he will become afflicted with scabies and his scabies will be transferred to the group and they all become afflicted.
Teach your children and continue [commanding them] to preserve the five daily prayers, for indeed the prayer is religion and it prevents one from committing obscene and evil deeds. In most cases, if you see your child always frequenting the mosque, then this is a sign of goodness and uprightness, as the Prophet [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] said: ‘’If you see a person always frequenting the masjid, then bear witness to his Imaan.’’
You say, ‘’Indeed, my child graduated from such and such university and he has a master’s degree or what they call a PHD, and he studied in America or in London or in such university; and you think that with these [qualifications] he has become a mountain amongst the mountains of the earth’’; but as long as he is unaware of the rights of his Lord, unaware of your rights and the affairs of his religion, then by Allaah he is a mirage and there is neither goodness in him nor in his knowledge [of the worldly sciences]. To be ignorant [of these worldly science] would be better for him because they led him to reject his religion, country and society. The situation of [this person who abandoned his religion] is that of evil and his manners have been corrupted. Therefore, it is obligatory that you do not become lackadaisical concerning the affairs of your children as long as they are young. Teach them what is beneficial and nurture them upon good.
It is obligated on the teachers to implant the true creed in the hearts of the young generation. They should clarify -for them- the wisdom, beauty and underlying reasons behind the rulings of the Islamic law until their hearts grow in Eemaan and radiated with its light, so that they become upright and benefit their country, governments, Islamic Nation, its people and the Religion. Therefore, the teacher who teachers your child should be an upright example for his pupils. They take him as an example in fulfilling the commands of Allaah and in his manners, just as Ut’bah Bin Abee Sufyaan said to his children’s teacher: ‘’Indeed, I have come to you to teach my children; firstly: rectify yourself and adhere to your religion, because their eyes are fixed on you. They will not see you beautifying or doing something, except that they will blindly follow you.’’ Then he said to the teacher, ‘’Teach them the best of the narrations’’; meaning: The best and most beneficial, and the most beneficial science. Then he said: ‘’Keep them away from flirting with women and composing love poems about them; rather teach them the hadeeth and the Qur’aan, and [those] poetry and etiquettes of the Arabs that develops bravery in the souls, heroism, nobility and adherence to good customs.’’ This is what Ut’bah said to the teacher of his children; He said: ‘’They [my children] will follow your deeds just as they learn from your sciences, so therefore your actions must be good.’’
Therefore, if the teacher strives together with the households and the fathers, the child will be given a good and upright upbringing. He will benefit his country and government, and Allaah will benefit Islaam and the Muslims through him. However, if his teacher is one of the corrupters, the enemies of Allaah, His Messenger, the religion of Islaam and the Muslim lands, [the student] will follow his footsteps because a student treads upon the fundamental principles of the teacher.
Alas, how can we be pleased with sending our young children to a faculty in America or to such and such country, and he [the parent] says: ‘’My child has gone to study’’, [whilst he has gone] to study disbelief, hearsay, deviation, how to turn away from his family, his country and religion!! They will teach him this, just as Zimmer [The Catholic philosopher and theologian] advocated.
This Zimmer was a head of Christian Missionaries and he sent Christian missionaries to the various regions of the Arab-Islamic Countries. He gathered them before dispersing them and said, ‘’Inform me of what you will be doing in the Muslim countries?’’ One of them said: ‘’I will convert five to Christianity.’’ Another said: ‘’I will convert two to Christianity, and I will give them the blessings of Christianity and make them thankful.’’ He (Zimmer) said: ‘’You have not understood our desired objective! It is not possible to convert the Muslims to Christianity; it is not possible for the Muslims to reject their religion, except if you teach them. The most important thing is that you teach the Muslim children by sowing doubts in their souls about their religion and rejection in their souls against their countries. And eventually when one of them sets up a centre in his country, he will give no importance to anything else except his desires. And when he gathers wealth, he will do so according to his desires. Therefore, he ends up having no religion and no connection with his Creator. Therefore, cultivate the lands of Muhammad [i.e. the Muslim lands] upon this.’’
And he (Zimmer) said in another speech of his: ‘’Indeed, Islaam is like a tree, therefore cut off its branches. Its branches are the children of the Muslims, therefore teach them so that they can aid you to cut off the tree of Islaam in their countries. You will not be able to cut it off yourselves, rather teach their children to aid you in uprooting it in their countries.’’
This is their statement [O reader]! If this is their statement, then how can a person excuse himself for sending his young child to Germany, France, America, Italy and London, whilst he has not yet been nurtured upon the correct creed. This is an error. [Your Muslim child] will come to you whilst turning away from his religion; turning away from his parents and looking down upon them. He will consider them to be [people] who neither possesses understanding nor do they know, whilst in reality he is the one without understanding. Therefore, it is incumbent upon a person to give serious concern to the children under his care because they are a trust. And when you neglect them, then indeed you have betrayed the trust. Allaah [The Most High] said:
يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لَا تَخُونُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَٱلرَّسُولَ وَتَخُونُوٓاْ أَمَـٰنَـٰتِكُمۡ وَأَنتُمۡ تَعۡلَمُونَ
‘’O you who believe! Betray not Allah and His Messenger, nor betray knowingly your Amanat [things entrusted to you and all the duties which Allah has ordained for you]. [Soorah Anfaal: Ayah: 27]
Therefore, your children are a trust and when you neglect them, then indeed you have betrayed them. It is obligated on every one of us to fear Allaah with regards to the [affair] of his children and those under his care.
The days go past and the end of a [person’s] lifespan draws closer, and a person does not know when his life span will suddenly come to [an end]. [A person] must strive to teach his children beneficial knowledge, nurtures them upon goodness and obedience to [Allaah and His Messenger].
“All of you are shepherds and each of you is responsible for his flock. A man is the shepherd of his household and he is responsible for them. A woman is a shepherdess in her husband’s house and she is responsible for her flock.”
And Allaah knows best, and may the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon Muhammad [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam], His family and companions.
Source: An Excerpt from ‘Al-Fataawaa Wad-Duroos Fil Masjid Al-Haraam’- by Al-Allaamah Abdullaah Bin Muhammad Bin Humayd (rahimahullaah): pages: 938-944. slightly paraphrased]