During a car ride the other day, my husband and I were having a conversation as he drove. He recited some lines from an ancient Arabic poem, one of the معلقات (poems hung on the Ka`ba by ancient Arabs of Quraysh). The author, he told me, was a man named القيس, Al-Qays.
It turned into a tangent about ancient Arab names, because I said, “Qays is such a common ancient Arab name. Reminds me of the very common category of names of that time that are in the diminutive form, like حُسَيْن (Husayn, which is the diminutive form of Hasan) or عُمَيْر (`Umayr, diminutive form of Umar).”
My husband added, “Or عُبَيْد, `Ubayd (diminutive form of `Abd) or even the name of the people of قُرَيْش, Quraysh itself (diminutive form of Qarsh).”
The kids, who were *not* a part of this conversation but who had been listening apparently, called out from the back of the car in quick succession:
9-year-old: “Or like عُيَيْنَة, `Uyaynah!”
(He was a munafiq from the time of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم who would later fight in حروب الردة (the Ridda Wars) and would be soundly defeated by Khalid ibn Al-Waleed in battle. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم had given him an apt nickname: الأحمق المطاع , “the Obeyed Idiot” because he was the leader of his massive tribe who blindly obeyed him but he was a real idiot.)
7-year-old: “Or like طُلَيْحَة بن خُوَيْلِد, Tulayha ibn Khuwaylid!”
(This is a double whammy because this man’s name AND his father’s name BOTH are in the diminutive form! He was a man who also apostated and fought in the same army as `Uyaynah against Khalid. But he had the added crime of claiming prophethood after Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم.)
6-year-old: “Or مُسَيْلِمَة الكذاب , Musaylimah Al-Kadh-dhab!”
(This was the man nicknamed by the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم “Musaylimah the Liar,” and he was yet another claimant to prophethood. But this guy had the sheer nerve to claim prophet status during the life of prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم! He would also be defeated in a major battle by Khalid near the end of the Ridda Wars.)
Parents, your kids are almost always listening to your adult conversations! This was just a humorous, harmless reminder of this reality, as our kids avidly listened to us and joined our discussion.
But this applies to life in general as a parent. Be cognizant of what you talk about around your children; don’t badmouth people, or fall into ghiba, or use foul language, or make crass jokes. The kids are listening and internalizing your words, actions, and tone. Their eyes constantly follow you and their ears are constantly perked in your direction. You are their main role model, whether you are aware of it or not.
May Allah guide us to raise righteous children and allow us to be ourselves righteous role models for them, ameen.