As a prophet who was sent to all humanity, we have clear evidence that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ believed children to be worthy of respect, mercy and love. He showed great care in his relationship with all children, in addition to his relationship with his own sons, daughters and grandchildren. Beautiful details in the narrations of his moments with children were full of lessons for the people around him at that time as well as for those of us reading about them today. We are going to try to collect such moments in this article.


First of all, he was an affectionate father and did not hesitate to express this affection, whether in public or in private. One of his companions, Anas ibn Malik (RA) narrated the following: “I have never seen anybody more compassionate than the Prophet toward one's family. His son, Ibrahim, had a wet-nurse living in Awali, Madinah. He often went to see his son with me. He would enter the blacksmith's house, which was full of smoke, took Ibrahim and kissed him and smelled him; then, he would return." [Muslim, Fadail, 63]


His bond with his youngest daughter Fatima, who lived the longest of all his children, is also heart-melting. His delight at seeing her was always apparent; he stood up to greet her, and complimented her generously. He even gave up his seat for her. Fatima showed him the same manners and kindness whenever her father visited her house. [Muslim, Fadail, 98]


When he was about to set out on a journey or a campaign, Fatima was the last person he said goodbye to and the first person he saw on his return. Even his wives came after Fatima. [Abu Dawud, Tarajjul, 21] His love for his daughter was evident from his own words: “Fatima is a part of me. What pleases her pleases me, and what saddens her, saddens me." [Bukhari, Fadhail 12, 29, 31; Muslim, Fadhail 93-94]


The Prophet ﷺ was not shy to openly display his love for the children of his family. Many narrations mention how he took his grandchildren in his arms and showed them physical affection. One of these narrations informs us that once Akra ibn Habis, the chief of a Bedouin tribe, saw the Prophet ﷺ kissing his grandson Hasan and said, "Do you kiss your children? I have ten and kissed none." This man found the actions of the Prophet ﷺ quite strange due to his own character, which was harsh and stiff. The Prophet's ﷺ answer to him was, "He who does not show mercy to others, will not be shown mercy." [Bukhari, Tawheed, 2]


He did not care how odd this gentle and affectionate behaviour looked to the people around him; his concern was for the children’s preferences. He did not stop caring about children even while performing prayers or delivering sermons. Sources inform us that once he came to the mosque with his granddaughter Umama in his arms, and when he stood to pray, he let the girl stay next to him. When he began to prostrate, the child climbed onto his back, and the Prophet ﷺ extended the duration of his prostration to allow her to stay longer on his back. [Bukhari, Fadail Al-Sahaba 22, Ilm 18: Tirmidhi, Manaqib 9, Birr 57; Ibn Majah, Adab 3]


Together with his own children, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ also raised an adopted child with the same compassion he had towards his biological children. This child was Zayd, who used to be a slave. Zayd was gifted to the Prophet ﷺ as a child. The Prophet ﷺ later freed him and adopted him. After a while, Zayd started to feel like a member of his household. The child's father and uncle managed to track him down, and approached the Prophet ﷺ to ask for his return. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ gave Zayd the right to make the decision himself. Although one might have expected Zayd to want to return to his family, Zayd said that he wanted to stay with the Prophet ﷺ; his exact words were, "O Messenger of Allah, I would rather choose no one other than you." [Tirmidhi, Manaqib 40]


As well as these examples of his affection towards his family, the Prophet ﷺ did not have to know a child well to show them kindness. He would make an effort to be compassionate towards any child. As soon as he heard a child crying during prayer, for example, he chose to recite shorter verses in order to shorten the prayer, to reduce the child’s distress and that of their mother too. [Bukhari, Adab, 18; Muslim, Masajid 42] There is even a narration about this in his own words: "I start the prayers with the intention of extending them. However, when I hear the crying of a child at the back, I keep the prayers brief to avoid making it harder both for the mother and the child." [Bukhari, Adhan 65; Muslim, Salat 186, 192]