Home Quranet Chapter 5 Should a father support his child so that he can study?
Should a father support his child so that he can study?
Chapter 5

قَدْ خَسِرَ الَّذِينَ قَتَلُواْ أَوْلاَدَهُمْ سَفَهاً بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَحَرَّمُواْ مَا رَزَقَهُمُ اللّهُ افْتِرَاء عَلَى اللّهِ قَدْ ضَلُّواْ وَمَا كَانُواْ مُهْتَدِينَ (سورۃ الانعام, آية 140)

Lost are those who slay their children, from folly, without knowledge, and forbid food which Allah hath provided for them, inventing (lies) against Allah. They have indeed gone astray and heeded no guidance. (Surah 6, Verse 140)

Samir is in the tenth grade and his grades are a little higher than average. His teachers think he has a good chance of succeeding in the matriculation examinations. In the previous summer vacation he worked on a building site and told his friends how hard the work was. He said it made him appreciate his studies and understand how important it is to advance in life. He dreamt of being a scholar, he said, so that in the future he could live comfortably and not have to exhaust himself with hard physical labor.

A week later Samir told his friends that his father had decided to kill him. His shocked friends asked for an explanation. "He passed a death sentence on me when he decided to kill my dream. He told me that one can't buy food through studies, and found me a permanent job on a building site belonging to a friend of his. He said it was my future and that it's not worth my while to waste years of my life at school. He also said he has no money for me and I must look out for myself because I'm a pampered boy who doesn't work and doesn't bring money home, just wastes time and enjoys himself."

Samir told his friends he was depressed and in despair. He had tried to persuade his father in every possible way to let him complete his studies - but in vain. There was no longer any meaning to his life and he intended to end it.

Samir's friends were very worried about him and came to his aid. They explained to him how precious his life was and urged him to preserve it and they promised to talk to his father. They invited Samir's father to one of their homes without telling Samir. He told them how hard it was for him to support his large family and said that Samir, as the oldest, must help. "He must sacrifice himself for his little brothers and sisters," he stressed.

The friends did not give up. They explained to the father that Samir too was his son and deserved part of his father's income. "He deserves for you to make sacrifices for him," they said, and told him that Samir was depressed and that his father's conduct was killing him. The father was stunned and replied" What are you saying? No father kills his son. I want what is best for him." Then they told him that his son was threatening suicide. Samir's father was alarmed and did not know whether to believe them but they calmed him and promised that they would not let Samir do anything foolish. "I never knew my son was so serious about his studies and I didn't realize how important they are to him. I've been blind," the father said. He looked anxious and tense and expressed his regret. Then one of the friends quoted: "Lost are those who slay their children, from folly, without knowledge, and forbid food which Allah hath provided for them, inventing (lies) against Allah. They have indeed gone astray and heeded no guidance". This time the father listened in silence.

He went home and knocked on the door of Samir's room.
Samir: Who is it?
Father: Your father.
Samir: You can come in.
Father: How are you?
Samir: All right...no, not really...
Father: My son, I want you to feel good all the time.
Samir: (surprised): Really, Father?
Father: Yes, Today I understood what is important to you, my son. You can continue your studies. I agree. I will always support you and what Allah gives me is intended for the whole family and for you too...
Samir: (cannot believe his ears. Embraces his father and his father sheds a tear). Are you crying, Father?
Father: They are tears of joy, my son.

Explanation: Samir's family situation is common in many societies, particularly among low-income groups. It is no disgrace to be poor, but it is hard. The parent faces a test. What to do with the limited funds at his disposal> Will he really deal with the important matters at the expense of the less important ones? Will he be ready to work hard for the sake of his children's future so that they can escape the vicious circle of poverty through education? The father is required to sacrifice himself for the sake of his children. This is not easy and not self-evident. If Samir works on a building site, his family's economic plight will be eased. Perhaps he can study and work at the same time. But here the Quran intervenes with its full moral force and tells the father not to deny his children what he can give them, because it is his sacred duty as a father to help his children to advance in life and succeed. Moreover, it is the father's duty to aspire to a situation where his children succeed more than he did. Regrettably, in many families this is not self-evident and some parents do not want their children to surpass them.