by Fudia Muhammad
One of the all-time great psychological debates is Nature vs. Nurture. The purpose of this debate is to identify the root of one’s behavior traits and characteristics. Do we behave the way we do as a result of our genetic make-up, meaning it’s inherited so it can’t really be helped (Nature)? Or, are behavior and characteristics acquired from environmental factors and influences (Nurture)? This description is admittedly oversimplified, but this is the crux of the argument. There are very strong points and counterpoints for each position. However, it should not be so much an either-or debate as it should be a debate over the strength of one to overcome the other.
The Holy Qur’an states that all human beings are made in the nature of Islam (entire submission to the will of God) except the rebellious devil. Our nature, our inherited genetic make-up, was fashioned and designed to submit to do the will of Allah (God). This means that the nature of the Black man and woman is that of righteousness, as a result of being direct descendants of God. But something happened. At present, the mental and spiritual condition of the Black man and woman in America and throughout the earth is evidence that our nature has been compromised. We have been nurtured – reared, supported, raised, fostered, parented, mothered, fed, and nourished – by our enemy, the rebellious devil. So, what we have been taught by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan stands true – environment is more powerful than heredity. But today, the weight of responsibility is primarily on parents, but when parents work in tandem with the village to nurture what nature has begotten, we have the best of both worlds and can produce gods.
The peak period for brain growth is when the baby is still in utero, mother’s womb. Mothers must take advantage of their divine position as God’s assistant, by feeding on His words and righteous thoughts, in order to have maximal influence on the brain. From the womb, a mother can give her child a strong inclination and predisposition to submit to do the will of Allah (God). But nature must then be nurtured. During the first three years after birth, our child’s brain is continuing to grow rapidly, then it slows dramatically, but is still growing. If we charted the growth of a child’s brain on a graph, the growth from utero to age three would be indicated by a nearly vertical line, which would gradually taper off after three years of age. The child’s brain must be fed with the right information during this tremendous growth spurt. This is why talking to our baby and reading to him is just as important once the baby is born as it was during pregnancy.
Since many of us have been unaware of the high level of intelligence possessed by our children a birth, we have been inadvertently diminishing their innate potential instead of building upon it. There was intelligence found in the human being when we were worthless water (sperm). If we look at sperm under a microscope, it looks simple – a large head followed by a tail. But intelligence is found in the head. There are tens of millions to hundreds of millions of sperm emitted at one time, but only one can fertilize the egg. Each sperm is placed in the same acidic hostile environment, competing with many, and traveling upstream against gravity. But the fastest or strongest sperm is not always the one to fertilize the egg. The scripture bears witness – “The race is not to the swift nor to the strong, but to the one who can endure to the end.” So, we are taught that the most intelligent sperm is the one that makes it to the egg – that was you; that was me; that is our children!
The only way to be absolutely positive that this intelligence is being nurtured and that our children are being reared in the manner that we desire is to do the rearing ourselves. It is necessary that the mother be home with her children until they reach school age. In 1996, during a Women’s Conference in Houston, Texas, Mother Tynnetta Muhammad (wife of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad), was asked a question regarding balancing motherhood with pursuing a career or going back to school. She told the Sisters that we should stay at home with our children until they reached the age of six. After which, we can go after those aspirations. Parenting is a very demanding responsibility that must be planned in advance before we decide to bring children into this world – that is, if our goal is to produce and nurture gods.
This world has given us its own timespan of when things should take place in our lives. According to “society,” we are supposed to go to college, get married, have children and have a successful career all before the age of thirty – PLEASE! Sisters, if you want college and a career, you can have it and you can have a family. But if you want the best out of each, you cannot have them conflict with each other or something will get missed. Our children are not going to be young forever. We should sacrifice to lay a solid foundation during those first six years. We will not be too old to pursue additional aspirations, not the original woman – smile.
The fact is, no one will take care of our children as we will. Not necessarily because they do not want to, but because by nature, they are incapable of it. Allah (God) made you the perfect parent for that child and fashioned that child in the womb perfectly for you to nurture. If the natural mother is balanced – mind, body, and spirit – no one can draw out of the child his or her greatness better than she; otherwise, Allah (God) would have made another person the child’s mother and not you. Let’s just accept our role as it was intended. This is why it is important for couples to make the necessary preparations before the baby comes, which will enable the mother to stay home with her children. It is not fair to our children to bring them into this world only to turn them over to someone else when all they really want is us. From birth to the age of six is a crucial time to reinforce security, stability, and structure. Very young children are not interested in spending quality time with us; they just want quantity time.
If this is not our reality and we are a single parent or must work for whatever reason, then be very careful about who cares for the children. Daycares and babysitters must be vetted thoroughly and have a clear understanding of our expectations. Every day, when our child returns to us, we must examine them physically and emotionally for any injury. Some of the nicest, most respectful persons have committed the most egregious and unthinkable acts against children. We hope for the best, but the only way to get the best 100% of the time is if we are doing the rearing and nurturing ourselves. If nature is not properly nurtured, environment will overpower heredity and we may look up one day and not be able to recognize what we produced.
(Sister Fudia Muhammad is a member of Muhammad Mosque No. 64 in Austin, Texas. She is married to Student Minister Robert L. Muhammad and they have been blessed with four children. Sister Fudia holds a Master’s degree in Education – she is a writer, an educator and an advocate for God-centered child-rearing.)