Kyai Imam Nahe’I, MHI.

Imam Nahe’I MHI was born in Malang, on February 12, 1970. He is a writer, researcher, and lecturer at the institution that educates students to be experts in Islamic Jurisprudence (fiqh) i.e. Ma’had Aly Situbondo East Java and Ibrahimy Islamic Institute (IAII) Situbondo. The alumnus of IAII (undergraduate degree) and Unisma (Malang Islamic University) Malang (master degree) majoring in Islamic Law is currently pursuing a Doctoral program at Surabaya State Islamic University (UIN) in a similar concentration. The alumnus of ulama cadre training of Indonesian Ulama Council (PKU-MUI) batch 1997 who have published several books such as Fiqh Anti-Trafficking (Fahmina publisher), Daily Fiqh of Migrant Workers (Fahmina publisher), Fiqh Pluralists (Research and Development Center of the Ministry of Religious Affairs publisher), Qawa’id Fiqh (Ibrahimy Press Publisher) is now the Commissioner of the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) 2014-2019. Along with his wife, he nurtures and educates his sons and daughters. The following is an interview between Swara Rahima and Pak Kyai Nakhei amidst his activities at the Komnas Perempuan.

From the Islamic viewpoint, when should the child education begin and by whom?

What I know is that the education process in Islam should have begun before the parents get married. That is since the bride or groom makes the right choice for his/her future partner, how the prospective father chooses a good prospective mother and vice versa. Therefore, before marriage, someone is encouraged to do a selection and seeking process. Its purpose is to prepare a place for educating the child before he is born that is a religious family that has similar understandings in ideology, goals, family’s vision and mission and so on which is considered kafa’ah meaning that both parents are ready to educate their child.

Second, when the bride and the groom start getting into a married life, if they want to have sexual intercourse, they are supposed to read the prayer: “O Lord, may what we do is a blessing from you and a mercy from you, so keep the mercy that You give from the touch of the hand of the devils.” By reading this prayer, sexual intercourse would be a mercy, and the sperm coming out would produce good seeds. 

Third, after becoming an embryo, Islam teaches that a pregnant woman has the right to get more affection (psychologically), and physically she has the right to get more nutrition than before pregnancy. This is an effort to prepare for the presence of a good child.  

The next stage is when the child is born; the obligation to educate the child is not only on the hand of the father or mother but the obligation of both father and mother. In the hadith it is sated “Kullu mauluudin yuuladu‘ ala al-fitrah” and so on. So, educating the child is the responsibility of the parents, man and woman. 

If the obligation to educate children is on both parents, is there a difference between the responsibility of Mother and Father in Islam?

In general, men (husbands) and women (wives) have different social roles. So educating children is very much related to the social roles of the parents. Therefore, it cannot be said because the father’s role is more outside than inside the home, he cannot provide education. Or, because the mother is usually at home, she is supposed to give the more educational role to the child. 

If there is a statement that “mother is a madrasa (school) for her children”, I think this statement appeared in a particular social context where men generally have a greater workload outside the home, so that the mother has more chance or times to be with her children. Such situation enables her to be able to provide more education to her children so that her role is much emphasized. Thus, the expression “al-umm madrasatun kubraa” is not nature but a gender role. By the time the context is changed that is when the father has more times than the mother or when the father has more opportunity to educate his children, he could be a madrasa for them some day. 

In the Qur’an it is stated, “wa bil waalidaini ihsaanaa“. There is also other expressions “wa li waalidayya“, “wa li waalidaihi“, that shows that the involvement of the parents is important in the whole process of children’s education. So in my opinion, the parents’ social roles should not prevent them from providing the best education for their children. For example, the parents usually come home after work in the afternoon, so they can take part in their children’s education after coming home. The most important thing is not the quantity of the meeting with the children but the quality of education provided by both parents. So, there is no difference in responsibility. Both have the same responsibilities, but there may be different things in quantity or quality. However, the husband and wife must fulfill each other.

Is there literature in Islamic treasury (khazanah) that specifically emphasizes the importance of the role of the father in educating children?

I find neither the text of the Qur’an nor the Hadith which emphasizes that the father has to be the main educator of his children or mother has to be the main educator of her children. Rarely do we find in the Quran about the role of education, surveillance, belief, and faith which only uses the term waalid (biological father) or waalidah (biological mother). Because, “al ashlu fii wujuubi tarbiyatil aulaad ‘alaa alabawain” (originally, the obligation to nurture children lies on their biological parents or their biological father and mother). 

But for nafaqah or giving livelihood is mentioned in the Qur’an wa ‘alaa al-mauluud (who causes a woman to get pregnant) is the father, wal waalidatu (who gets pregnant) is Mother. Because nafaqah is not the role of education but the role of responsibility such as the role of breastfeeding, the role of giving livelihood so it uses specific language that is father or mother. 

So, the emphasis is on cooperation that the education responsibility is on both parties or both parents. If there are differences, it is solely because of the socio-economic context. 

In the Principle of Islamic Jurisprudence (Ushul Fiqh) it is stated “al ashlu fii wujuubi at-tarbiyyah” ala al-abawain” (basically the obligation to educate children is the obligation of both parties or both parents). Therefore, the fulfillment of the family’s needs and parenting in order that the children would grow well is the parents’ obligation that needs to be conducted together. 

What values need to be instilled by the parents to the children in the education process?

The most basic thing why education needs to be assigned to parents is that the children could learn and realize about relationships between men and women; the relationship between husband and wife is actually equal. They both have a similar responsibility. This is one of the important points for children. It will be much different if the children’s education is only given by either their father or their mother. The children will see why this family is unbalanced as it is their mother that always teaches them while their father just works outside the home or vice versa. Such an education process is not really good for the children. 

If the parents educate children together, the children from the beginning will discern that the relationship between their father and mother and women, in general, is equal. And this value is embedded in their soul and then when they have a family, they will apply the same values as what they have learned from their small family. 

How about the model of education applied in your family?

If I am at home, we do our housework together. Since waking up in the morning, we then pray together. After that, we usually make a coffee (I make it by myself). Then my wife cooks and I wash the clothes then dry them together. After that, we eat together. This is actually the way of teaching. I and my wife rarely give teaching by the words but by example. There is an idiom that “An example from 1 person can affect 1000 people. But 1000 words are difficult to influence 1 person.” It means that example is much more important than the words. 

However, we have to give positive values through that example. For instance, this is how family life should be. We have to help each other. We treat the boys and girls equally. So there is no specific type of work for men and for women. We have 5 children. The oldest is male, the second is female, the third is female, the fourth is male, and the youngest is female. So in our household, we don’t distinguish jobs for men and women. All works are our works together. We do it together. We enjoy together and we learn together. Those are some small things that we apply in our household. Although it is not perfect as the Prophet has given the example. But we are trying how to make the values in the principle of marriage such as mutual discussion, open-heartedness, husnut-tafaahum (mutual understanding) appear in domestic life. 


When your wife was concentrating on reproduction tasks (such as giving birth, breastfeeding, and taking care of babies/child) and needed more attention, what did the Kyai do?

In the household that we live in, when my wife was carrying out reproductive functions, we have understood that at that time my wife was experiencing biological and psychological obstacles. For example, when my wife experienced menstruation, there would be a hormonal change that affects her psychological changes; where woman usually become easily emotional and so on. That is not because of her characters, but because of hormonal changes. In such a situation, the husband must open his heart in order not to cause a dispute in domestic life because she is undergoing hormonal changes so that she experiences psychological changes, which sometimes make her more emotional. 

In my opinion, that is an important value. Many people get angry when facing the anger of the other because they do not understand the situation and condition of their partner. It is like the situation of the husband after coming back home from work. He is so tired due to a traffic jam and so on. So there are situations and conditions that affect the husband’s psychology. In such situation, the wife should also open her heart. Alam nasyrah laka shadrak, open your chest to accept a number of possible circumstances that make one partner uncomfortable. 

Furthermore, in the process of breastfeeding, I could not take lots of roles, except just accompanying my wife. Breastfeeding is actually a very difficult process especially when my wife’s breasts got hurt because the baby sucked quickly. My wife experienced that while breastfeeding some of our children and now still experiencing it as my wife is still breastfeeding my fifth child. So, all I can do is accompanying her hoping to reduce the pain a little. In addition, we should give little entertainment or psychological support. Some time ago, when my wife got hurt I said, “Possibly, the pain you feel can even prevent cancer that has the potential to grow.” Such entertainment must be given when she is undergoing the process of reproduction. 

To carry a baby, bathe him, and put clothes on him are no problem for us. Because those are our responsibility that we must do as the parents, and we teach it as a common task.  

What important points did Pak Kyai gain from your involvement in that process?

The purpose is teaching children that man and woman or husband and wife are equal. That is the most important thing. Then the wife and husband have to respect each other and vice versa. Giving respect on the basis of humanity is very important. So, equality, respect for humanity, and recognition that a woman as a wife has rights and obligations, and a man as a husband also has rights and obligations. All those things should have been introduced from the beginning to children, not by words but by examples. 

Usually, I feel happy when children ask me something and they don’t feel afraid. Not only asking for something from his mother but also from me and say, “Abi is kind, are not you?” I think that is something that could please us as parents; when the children say that their parents are kind and they are not afraid.

Another important point is that it is not allowed to teach children to be afraid of parents, but how they have to respect their parents for the treatment given by the parents to them. So the children give respect to the parents not because they are their parents but because of parents’ treatment to their children. There is another value which is in my opinion also important regarding respect for humanity that is an appreciation of thoughts and ideas of both parents. So, the husband respects the wife’s ideas, and so does the wife. And it could be started from small things such as moving a cupboard. Small things, for instance, where the cupboard should be moved, where to put it, or how good it would be, need to be discussed together. The children may see and want to help their parents. Then they would conceive that even the smallest business/thing in the household must be discussed. Those are according to me the values that I can share from the household life that we are undergoing. 

Based on your involvement in doing domestic tasks, what are the impacts on the boys and daughters?

I may not consider it. But what I can see is that the boys rarely blame their younger siblings when they are emotional. They do not mock their sister for crying easily. I rarely find statements of bullying or mockery on the basis of gender in our family because we teach that men and women are equal. Still, there is a statement like “the girls are not supposed to do this and that”. Such expressions may occur. Perhaps, it is because of the influences of the environment outside. However, as long as they follow or emulate the guidance of their parents, such things will not happen. 

For girls, they will be more confident as they can play a role as the boys. So, the boys would not humiliate the girls on the basis of gender, whereas the girls can increase their confidence. They feel that being women is not a disgrace, because they can do anything like the boys. 

What could Pak Kyai share with parents, especially fathers, during the golden age of the children’s growth?

There is a slogan that is very common among pesantren (Islamic boarding schools) and the Muslims, “La’ib sab’an, wa shaahib sab’an”. Ask children to play during their first seven years, and accompany them during their second seven years. So, in the second seven years, the term used is “accompany”. So I think this is not only the obligation of parents but also the right of children to get love and affection (haqqul hubbi wal intifa‘) from their parents. So the most important thing that should be given by both parents is love and affection. These are two different things, in Arabic are hubb and rahmah. Or rahman (compassionate) and rahim (merciful) must be given equally to the children. That is the parents’ responsibility. 

The difference between Hubb and Rahmah is that Love or hubb for example because I love my children too much, so whatever they do whether it will endanger them in the present or in the future I would let them do it as I really love them. It is called hubb, but it is not rahmah because rahmah is actually for the benefit of the children. 

Hubb is the parents’ interest. Because the parents love their children so much, they usually would be reluctant to be apart with their children. As a result, when they want to remind their children, educate them, or send them to school, they become afraid of losing their children so they do not want to let them go. This is really dangerous. In this case, therefore rahmah is needed. 

Because rahmah is love for the interests of the children, so telling children to learn diligently, fasting, and so on are parts of rahmah. Because many people are generally compassionate when they ask their children to fast. How poor they are. Such thinking is because of the parents’ love feeling. But rahmah is for the benefit of the children and between hubb and rahmah must be balanced. 

Back to the topic of discussion, the obligation to educate and nurture the children is the obligation of the parents, father and mother. So father should not feel that he is the only source of knowledge for his children, but once they make a mistake he blames the mother. The obligation to educate children is the obligation of both parents. And if the children do not get enough education, it is also the responsibility of both parents. 

Fathers must realize about the importance of values of equality, respect for humanity (respecting idea, respect for choice) and these values must be instilled in the household. So we teach not only by words but also by examples. Teaching by words once is enough but the examples must be given even thousands of times. {} AD. Kusumaningtyas 

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