Love and recognition of Allah (swt) is not a cap that can be picked up from any store and worn on our heads. It needs to be grown gradually with care, wisdom and knowledge. It starts with the inception of life and not after one turns fifty, and heads towards the prayer mat. What our kids need is the right start in the right direction. Here is how we can achieve this goal:
Allah (swt) breathes a soul into the unborn child in the fourth month of its conception in the mother’s womb. Allah (swt) states: “It is He Who fashioned you in the wombs as He pleases. There is no deity except Him, the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” (Al-Imran 3:6)
By the seventh month the foetus is able to respond to stimuli including pain, light and sound. By the end of the eighth month, it has undergone tremendous brain development and is now capable of seeing and hearing.
Besides nurturing a bond with her unborn child the mother may help her child develop ties with its Creator too.
The mother can recite the Quran aloud, or play an audiotape. This will provide solace to her, and also familiarize her baby with the Divine Revelation.
Much of the anxiety of a pregnant woman departs by praying to Allah (swt) for her own, and her unborn child’s health and safety.
The parents can give their child a head start by indulging themselves in simple good deeds.
Most significantly, the parents will have prepared a home environment, to welcome the baby, where everyone thinks and talks about Allah (swt).
Relations at birth:
Once the baby is born, as parents, we must thank Allah (swt) for the blessing bestowed upon us. The child is now admitted as the newest member of the Muslim Ummah by following Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) Sunnah, which is not obligatory but comes highly recommended. This includes the following rituals:
Adhan should be called out in the newborn’s ear. The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: “If one has a baby and makes the Adhan in its right ear and the Iqamah in its left ear, Satan will not disturb the child, Allah willing.” (Bayhaqi)
Tahneek refers to softening a date by any ordinary means and rubbing a small amount in the baby’s mouth.
Tasmiyah means naming a child. The Prophet (sa) said: “On the Day of Resurrection, you will be called by your names and by your father’s names, so give yourself good names.” (Abu Dawood)
Aqeeqah means to slaughter a sheep or other animal to celebrate birth of a child.
Relations in the first two years
A man came to Malik Ibn Nabiy asking for advice about his daughter’s education. Malik asked him: “How old is she?” The man replied: “One month.” Malik said: “You missed the train.” This statement may seem an exaggeration, but a child’s learning starts from the time it comes to this world. Our baby swiftly learns to cry for attention, food, a nappy change, and more. Parents can do much during these formative years:
The parents can continue reading the Quran, or playing an audiotape of it for the baby at least once or twice a day.
Parents become very upset when their child disturbs their prayer. The Prophet (sa) use to offer his prayers even while carrying his grandchildren in his arms.
Parents can set out a separate prayer mat and allow the kid to imitate them in prayers, as children love to emulate grownups.
Whenever the toddler does something deserving praise, he should always be told how Allah (swt) must be happy with him and will reward him, Insha’Allah.
As parents, we should not invoke fear of the Creator into children’s hearts by telling them how they will be punished for bad behaviour. The Prophet (sa) said: “There are three (kinds of people) whose actions are not recorded: a sleeper until he awakens, a boy (referring to children) until he reaches puberty, and a lunatic until he comes to reason.” (Abu Dawood)
Relations in the first five years
Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “No child is born except on the Fitrah (of connectedness to Allah (swt)), as the animal gives birth to a perfect offspring. Do you find it mutilated? Then his parents Judaize or Christianize or Magianize him.” (Bukhari)
Norma Tarazi a writer, explains: “Being born in Fitrah does not mean being perfect. Our Fitrah prepares us to receive the guidance of Allah (swt) and to search for it, but we need that knowledge from outside ourselves in order to live in the best way.” The provider of this knowledge is the parent. Ibn Al-Qayyim rightly observes: “If you consider the causes of bad behaviour in children, you will, in general, find that the parents are the main cause.” Parents can play a positive role by following these steps:
It is best to teach children the Quran at an early age, since their minds are razor sharp and can pick new things easily and steadily.
Kids love bedtime stories, so this is an opportunity to narrate real life accounts of our prophets and their companions.
Parents can teach kids short Duas for different occasions, which help the child remember Allah (swt) at frequent intervals like, before eating, sleeping etc
We can inculcate gratitude in the child by helping him understand how the good food, toys, games, love, and everything in life comes from Allah (swt).
Whenever the child errs, parents may explain to him that he can mend ways by sincerely repenting to Allah (swt), and resolving to do better next time.
Relations in the first ten years
The companions of the Prophet (sa) took this great duty of child education at heart. They harshly reprimanded those who gave more attention to the grownups than to the children. Amr Ibn Al-As (rta) saw a group of men sitting next to the Kabah. They ordered the children to keep away from their gathering. He told them: “Do not do that! Let them join you and be near you, and give them guidance. They may be young today, but they will be adults tomorrow.” Parents can gear their kids’ energies in the right direction by doing much:
Once the kid is mature, we can explain him the purpose of our existence. Our mission to do good and stay away from evil. Once we return to Allah (swt), we will be judged for our deeds and accordingly rewarded for them.
We must teach the meaning of the Quran in any language of preference. We can only expect our kids to benefit from this knowledge if they are able to understand it and not by having just read it like a parrot.
The parents can invite their children to observe the wonderful creations of Allah (swt) and how the Quran defined them hundreds of years ago even before they were discovered scientifically.
As parents we must build our child’s trust in the Creator (swt). The kid must believe that it is Allah (swt) who can help him in any situation; He is watching him, and listening to him everywhere.
Assessing the prevalent scenario around us, Mounir Ibrahim a prolific writer comments: “Our children are indeed the future trustees of the Muslim Ummah. The importance of education should be even more emphasized in these times when falsehood is so widespread. If the parents do not rescue their children with a strong Islamic education, the children will melt in the pot and may join the ranks of those who wage war against Allah (swt) and the believers.”