If you were a parent then you would want the best for your children. The best thing that you can give them is that they learn to submit themselves to Allah (swt). In so doing, by Allah's Mercy, they will be granted Jannah (Paradise) to live therein forever. It goes without saying that what you do not want is for them to end in Jahannum (Hell) forever.
Imagine a burning fire. Now imagine throwing your children into it - you cannot imagine such a thing! But by not doing what is necessary to save your children now, that is what you are ultimately doing.
Abu Huraira (r) narrated: When Allah's Messenger (s) said, "Your ordinary fire is one of 70 portions of the Hellfire," someone commented, "O Messenger of Allah, would it (the ordinary fire) not be sufficient to burn the wrongdoers?" At that, Allah's Messenger (s) said, "Hellfire has 69 more portions than ordinary fire, and all of them are as hot as this (worldly fire)." (Bukhari) If you cannot imagine your children burning in this earthly fire then you cannot imagine them in the fire of Jahannum burning 69 times as fiercer!
The Prophet (s) warned his daughter Fatimah (r), "...O Fatimah, save yourself from the Fire, for I cannot avail you anything before Allah." (Muslim, an-Nasa'i) If the Prophet (s) cannot save his daughter on the Day of Judgement then how can we hope to save our children then? Indeed, Allah (swt) warns us:
"O mankind! Be afraid of your Lord (by keeping your duty to Him and avoiding all evil), and fear a Day when no father can avail aught for his son, nor a son avail aught for his father...."(Qur'an, Luqman 31:33)
The time for saving our children is now!
An Islamic upbringing is one way of ensuring this so that when they are older they can save themselves from Jahannum. However, there is another way available to every person that you must take advantage of. It is to make du'ah (supplications) to Allah (swt).
The Prophet (s) said, "The supplications of three persons are accepted and there is no doubt concerning their acceptance: a father; a traveller; one who is wronged." (Ahmad, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi) Every parent must, therefore, make du'ah for his or her children.
When Prophet Ibrahim (a) and his son Prophet Ismail (a) were raising the foundations of the Ka'baah, they made a du'ah to Allah (swt). The following is part of their du'ah:
"Our Lord! And make us submissive to You and of our offspring a nation submissive to You, and show us all the ceremonies of pilgrimage and accept our repentance. Truly, You are the One Who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful." (Qur'an, al-Baqarah 2:128)
Again, this is the du'ah of Prophet Ibrahim (a):
"O my Lord! Make me one who performs prayers and from my offspring, our Lord! And accept my invocation.
Our Lord! Forgive me and my parents, and all the believers on the Day when the reckoning will be established." (Qur'an, Ibrahim 14:40-41)
Allah (swt) granted Prophet Ibrahim (a) his prayer by granting from among his offspring righteous prophets who submitted to Allah: Is'haaq, Ismail, Ya'qub, Yusuf (a). Prophet Muhammad (s) is also a descendent of Prophet Ibrahim through Prophet Ismail.
You cannot hope to raise Prophets from among your progeny since Prophet Muhammad (s) was the Last Prophet. But you can pray that your children will be among the righteous, those who submit to Allah (swt).
Righteous children not only benefit themselves through their good deeds but they also benefit the parents during their lifetimes and after their parent's deaths. According to Abu Huraira (r), the Messenger of Allah (s) said, "When a man dies, his actions cease except for three things: a sadaqah (charity) that he gave (which continues to benefit the people); knowledge that he disseminated (which continues to benefit the people); a righteous child who makes supplications for him." (Muslim) Every parent, therefore, must try their best to bring up and make supplications for righteous children so that the children in turn can make supplications for them.
Although you may not be a parent, everyone is a child of someone. It is, therefore, essential that you try to become a righteous child to your parents while they are alive and after their deaths. Abu Assyad, Malek ibn Rabe'a Al-Sa'edy related: "While we were sitting with Allah's Messenger (s) a man from Bani Salama came to him and asked, 'O Messenger of Allah! Would there still be anything to do to be dutiful to my parents after they have died?' He answered, 'Yes! Pray for them, ask Allah's forgiveness for them, fulfil their covenants after their death, maintain contact with kindred with whom contact can be established only through them, and honour their friends.'" (Ahmad, Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah, Al-Hakim)
Allah (swt) has taught us many du'ah to say for parents in the Qur'an. Below are two:
"My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was young." (Qur'an, al-Isra 17:24)
"My Lord! Grant me the power and ability that I may be grateful for Your Favour which You have bestowed upon me and my parents, and that I may do righteous good deeds, such as please You, and make my offspring good. Truly, I have turned to You in repentance, and truly, I am one of the Muslims (submitting to Your Will)." (Qur'an, al-Ahqaf 46:15)
Prophet Nuh (a) made this du'ah to Allah:
"O my Lord! Forgive me, my parents, all who enter my house in Faith, and all believing men and believing women. And to the wrong-doers grant no increase but destruction!" (Qur'an, Nuh 71:28)
If you cannot bear the thought of your children burning in the Fire then can you imagine your parents being punished in their graves? If you cannot then always ask Allah's forgiveness for them whether they are still alive or not (note, you cannot make du'ah for non-Muslim parents when they are dead).
This article has been about making supplications to Allah (swt) for your children and parents. By using the above Qur'anic quotations (in Arabic) you will be doing a service to them. The power of the supplications is a mighty tool that Allah (swt) has given His slaves - use it!
"And your Lord says: Call on Me, I will answer your prayer. But those who are too arrogant to serve Me will surely enter Hell disgraced." (Qur'an, Ghafir 40:60)