Islam has given Muslims a set of values that were modeled with perfection by the last Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (sa). These values need to form the core of our character, because the best amongst Muslims is he, who has the best manners and character. The Prophet (sa) told us:“The dearest and nearest among you to me on the Day of Resurrection will be one, who is the best of you in manners; and the most abhorrent among you to me and the farthest of you from me will be the pompous, the garrulous and the arrogant.” (Tirmidhi)
As Muslim parents, it is our duty to inculcate these values in our children. The values we impart to our children today, consciously or unconsciously, will have a major impact on the Muslim Ummah tomorrow. Justice and fairness is one such important value.
Justice and Fairness
Children’s understanding of justice and fairness is very different from that of adults. Children see black and white and are sometimes unable to understand or accept situations that don’t feel fair to them. Also, in their dealings with others, children have a hard time giving priority to being just and fair over what they desire.
Here are some ways to teach your children about justice and fairness:
This can be a preliminary exercise to the activities given below.
- What does justice and fairness mean?Try to lead them to these answers:
- Treating all people with honesty and respect.
- Giving everyone equal opportunities.
- Cooperating with one another.
- Celebrating the uniqueness and value of everyone.
- Making sure others are not treated badly.
2.Do you feel you’re treated fairly at home?
3.Are you treated fairly at school?
- How do you feel, when someone treats you unfairly?
- Is it okay to cheat for winning a game? Why or why not?
- Do you think it’s fair your older sibling gets to stay awake later than you? (Or any other example pertinent to your family’ssituation.)
Relate to them some stories from the life of Sulayman (as), who was given the ability by Allah (swt) to make sound, fair and just decisions.
Materials: Bag of candy
Bring a bag of candy containing less than the total number of children you are working with. Pass the bag around and tell everyone to take one. When the children discover the unfair situation and that there is not enough candy for everyone, discuss the following questions: 1. How did those that did not get the candy feel? How about those that did? 2. What would be the fair solution to the problem? 3. Can you think of another situation, when people might feel left out or rejected?
Judge and Jury
Materials: Slips of paper
Before your lesson, write down different ‘crimes’ on slips of paper, such as cheating on a test, disobeying a parent, fighting and stealing a cookie from the cookie jar. Each person gets to be the ‘criminal’, as he picks a crime from the hat, and the rest of the people become the ‘jury’ deciding his sentence. How severe should the punishment for each crime be? Should the punishment for some crimes be harsher than others? Discuss the justice and fairness of the punishments decided by the jury.
The Fair Eggs-periment
Materials: Clear drinking glass filled with one cup of water, fresh egg, ¼ cup salt, a permanent marker and tablespoon
Place the egg in the glass of water. Tell the children that the egg, which will sink to the bottom, represents someone, who is not being treated fairly and feels sad, depressed, defeated and unloved.
Remove the egg from the water and add salt to the water, on tablespoon at a time. Explain that each tablespoon represents different ways to show fairness towards others, such as following the rules when playing a game, taking turns and sharing, treating others with honesty and respect, and taking action to help someone being treated unfairly. After all the salt has been added, put the egg back in the water– it will now float. Explain that the egg is now being supported with kindness and ‘held up’ by the fairness and acceptance of others.
Materials: two five-rupee coins, five two-rupee coins, ten one-rupee coins.
Place the five rupee coins next to stacks of the two-rupee coins and the one-rupee coins. Begin by discussing the fact that although each set of coins looks different, they all have the same value. Explain that this is the same with people; we may look different on the outside – short, tall, fat, etc., but we are all of equal value in the sight of Allah (swt)and deserve to be treated fairly. When you share, take turns and treat others equally and respectfully, you are showing fairness. Tell the children that one of Allah’s (swt) names is Al-Adil, the Just.
Material: Any food item that can be divided, such as a cake or pizza
Buy or bake a cake and ask your child to figure out, how to divide it equally among the family and servants in the house. If you are doing this activity with more children, divide the cake into two and make two teams. Direct each team to let one child cut the cake and the others be the first to choose a piece. Note how the child will be careful in cutting the piece fairly, since he gets the last piece. Explain to them that they must always treat others the same way they would like to be treated.
Rules or not – that is the question
Material: A favourite game
Have the children play a board game, such as checkers or Monopoly. Let one child play the game according to the rules and the other scan make up their own rules, while they play. What happens? Are rules important?
Role Play Scenarios
Role-play different scenarios with children and ask them to make decisions based on justice and fairness. Some examples are:
- Two children spot a tricycle and run over to it at the same time. What would be a fair way to decide, who rides it first?
- Three children have to share one sandwich between them. How can it be divided fairly? What if one of the children is a small 2 year old baby. Does this change the division?
- The teacher punishes the whole class for misbehaving. Is this fair? How should it be done fairly?
- Two children at a party want to play with the same toy. Figure out a way to share the toy. Can taking turns be an option?