According to a Hadeeth of Rasoolullah (sa), children are born on Fitrah (true nature). (Bukhari) All they need is introduction and reminders about the concepts of reward and punishment, or Jannah and Jahannum. We have asked some mothers and daughters to share with us their ideas and tips regarding the different ways through which the concept of Jannah should be introduced to kids.
Kulsum Kamran, a mother of three, gives the following suggestions in the light of her experience as a mom: “As we generally talk a lot about justice and injustice, it helps to tell kids that Jannah and Jahannum are Allah’s (swt) justice. I suggest we introduce the concept through small examples of reward and punishments given to people on their wrongdoings and good deeds. Ask the children about how they imagine Jannah and Jahannum. Tell them stories of Sahabahs and their life styles. Tell the kids about Allah’s (swt) mercy. I feel the concept of ranks or degrees in Jannah needs to be introduced at an early age. It gives remarkable results, when kids compare this concept with the achievements of this Dunya.”
Aneeta Saleem, a mother of three boys, shares some of her experiences with us. She would introduce Jannah by telling her boys that if they did good deeds, Allah (swt) would make them enter beautiful lush green gardens, where they would get everything they’d wish for, which was a very attractive proposition for children, who are inherently goAl-oriented. Aneeta says: “They would ask me about their favourite material things, and whether those would be given to them in Jannah, and I would say: ‘Yes, we will get whatever we wish for, Insha’Allah.’ I still remember my youngest son Sarmad saying: ‘Whoever eats his veggies will go to Jannah’. I don’t know how he came to this conclusion that the reward for every good deed is Jannah.”
Hina Nauman is a home maker and a mother of three young boys. She shares her experience both in terms of how she was given the concept of Jannah and how she passes it on to her children: “Ironically, when I was growing up, the concept of Jannah was discussed less and Jahannum more; specially when I or any of my siblings would do something wrong (like missing a prayer), we were reminded of Hellfire. Though this was very disturbing for me as a child, I now realize it was also a blessing in disguise. Growing up in an atmosphere, where religion was not an option, made me direct my attention towards the Quran. As an adult, reading and understanding the Quran helped me realise the love for Allah (swt) that I believe all humans have, and the need for this love to be explored. I tried to inculcate this love in my sons. This was done by associating every activity they did with the presence of Allah (swt). I often tell them that mama might not always be there to see what you are doing, but Allah (swt) will always be watching you.
I realized that I can’t introduce the concept of Jannah, before instilling in my child the concept of life after death. This was a more difficult task, but our description of life after death doesn’t have to be just horrifying. Once my son realized that he will be meeting Allah (swt) soon, I then let his imagination do the rest… of how in Jannah he will have a big house, a play station, even a cell phone, his toys and no school. But with this journey of innocent imagination, a mother needs to interject constant reminders that all this is possible only with righteous deeds. The stories of the Prophets (sa) helped in accomplishing this. I really think, if we are able to give our children a baseline that love of Allah (swt) is followed by meeting Him, we can help our children explore their faith Insha’Allah. But, please, always tell them that religion is not an option.”
Hiba Khan, a young girl, who studies the Quran, shares her experience as to how the concept of Jannah as a reward from Allah (swt) was introduced to her. She says: “I honestly don’t remember what my parents told us or how they told us, because they started at an early age. But I can more or less remember the thought-process they instilled in us: if we believe in the Oneness of Allah (swt), the Prophethood of Muhammad (sa), the Day of Judgement, Heaven and Hell, the Quran and the five pillars of Islam – coupled with generally being a good person, who does the recognized good and avoids the recognized wrong – then we are going to go to Jannah. It was only for Muslims. The disbelievers would all be in Hell. The general idea that we got, even though it wasn’t exactly said aloud, was: as long as you’re Muslim, you’re safe – you get into Jannah easily, because the above-mentioned things are pretty ‘easy’ things to do, and what you really have to do is just believe. Although the things we were taught were correct in essence, they were taught at a very superficial level. Like many Muslims today, we literally took it for granted that we would be getting into Jannah. I doubt that striving for it was one of our priorities at all, let alone a top priority. Also, after being introduced to the concept of Jannah in childhood, we were not regularly reminded about it; hence, the lack of motivation. It was more about getting good grades in school.”
Farah Saeed says: “I have taught the concept of accountability to my children. Do you know the answers to Allah’s (swt) questions about everything you do in this world?” Her four-year-old son with fear in his eyes said: “Will I have to answer for everything I have done? What will I say to Allah mia for pulling (my maid’s) hair? What reason will I give?” Farah Saeed says: “I told him to say sorry to her, because one can be forgiven that way.” Farah thinks that children feel guilty, because they are connected to conscience. The voice of their conscience is very loud and clear. They just need a slight reminder.
She reads out Ayahs from the Quran that lead to Jannah. “You will get all your desires fulfilled, any toy you hope to get will be there. In Jannah you will desire something in your mind, and it will be in front of you. You won’t have to wait for it. Everything will be perfect.”
Her six-year-old son is fond of clothes, so Farah told him that “at one time one would be able to wear seventy clothes. A servant will live like a princess with the most wonderful wardrobe and jewellery.” Her child was fascinated. She explained to him how equality was based only on good actions. A poor person will get into Jannah five hundred years before a rich person. Her child thought that this was not fair, but she explained that the servants had lived hard life here and not enjoyed much in Duniya.
When her child asked Farah if Allah (swt) is stronger than Superman, she replied in the affirmative, saying: “When Duniya will end, Allah (swt) will wrap everything, i.e., the heaven and earth, in His arms.” Farah feels that one needs to relate Allah (swt) to worldly power as a child’s imagination has limitations and is bound to the physical world only.
When renowned Islamic scholar and a mother of four children, Dr. Farhat Hashmi was asked, in what words should we introduce Jannah to children, she replied by saying: “Home of those who are close to Allah (swt).”
- Remember that children’s souls are purer and unadulterated compared to adults; hence, they understand Islam’s basic teachings very easily. Children understand reward and punishment very well. Therefore, do not hesitate and do not assume they will not believe it.
- If parents hesitate to talk to children about the Hereafter, maybe they need to question their own beliefs first. Children are quick to sense any doubt or lack of conviction in their parents.
- Use imaginative skills of both yourselves and of your children.
- As a family, never crack jokes about the Hereafter, nor participate by laughing on such jokes.
- Constantly remind your child of the importance of Jannah as a goal.
- Make sure that kids know that Jannah is not a magical land of dreams but a real goal.
- Be prepared for common queries about Jannah and how to address them, especially with older children, for example, about Hoors, etc.
- Learn more about Jannah yourself in the light of the Quran and Ahadeeth.