By Erum Asif
“I want a bright future for my child,” dreams the parent and spends time, money and effort. What ‘future’? This fleeting life, whereby we can be called back any time, never to return, or the eternal life-after-death?
A glimpse of that future from a Hadeeth: “When a human being is laid in his grave and he hears that footsteps of his companions leaving him, then two angels come to him and make him sit and ask him: ‘What did you say about this man, Muhammad?’ He will say: ‘I testify that he is Allah’s slave and His Apostle.’ Then it will be said to him: ‘Look at your place in the Hell-Fire. Allah has given you instead a place in Paradise.’ The Prophet (sa) added: ‘The dead person will see his both places. But a non-believer or a hypocrite will say to the angels: ‘I do not know, but I used to say, what the people used to say!’ It will be said to him: ‘Neither did you know nor did you take the guidance (by reciting the Quran).’ Then he will be hit with an iron hammer between his two ears, and he will cry. That cry will be heard by whatever approaches him, except human beings and Jinns.” (Bukhari)
The hypocrite was guilty of ignorance and not learning the Quran (and the Sunnah) to cure his ignorance.
Muslim parents had the job to learn Deen and teach their offspring, but they neglected it.
Compare the time, effort and money Muslim parents are spending on their children’s schooling versus Deen. Even religious parents have accepted children’s studies, leaving little time for Deen. We take homework, exams, projects and tuitions seriously. But worry little, if our children miss prayers, our university-going child has neither studied the Quran nor recites it properly, or they barely know the Prophet (sa) and his companions.
Gaining beneficial worldly knowledge is good, but learning Deen is obligatory. Can ‘obligatory’ be compromised for the ‘optional’?
Prophet (sa) had said: “Everyone of you is a guardian and is responsible for his charges… A man is a guardian of his family and is responsible for them; a woman is a guardian of her husband’s house and children and is responsible for them… So all of you are guardians and are responsible for your charges.” (Bukhari) We are responsible for teaching our children Islam. Firstly, by being role-models for them, and, second, by verbally teaching the Quran and the Sunnah.
Take motivation from the early Muslims. Umm Sulaym (rta) taught her young son Anas (rta) reading and writing, the Surahs and Ayaat she knew and offered his services to the Prophet (sa), so that he may learn from him. He became a devout Muslim and is a narrator of 2,286 Ahadeeth.
Imam Shafai’s mother was a widow. She moved from Palestine to Yemen to provide him a better environment. Before the age of 10, he had memorized the Quran and started learning Imam Maalik’s “Muwattah.” Although she needed him, she allowed him to travel for further knowledge. Abdullah Ibn Mubarak’s father gave him 50,000 Dirhams for trade. He used it for a better trade, travelling far to acquire a wealth of Ahadeeth from great scholars. Overjoyed, his father granted him 30,000 Dirhams more.
In recent times, Dr. Azra Batool (d. 2003) was an active Islamic worker in Okara (Punjab). She was running a hospital with her husband, caring for many in-laws, teaching Islamic classes, parenting NINE children and yet listening to their Hifz regularly. Once during board exams, her son declined reciting the Quran during Ramadan. The far-sighted mother said: “Son, no worry, if you get ten marks less or more in this exam. One should worry more about the exam before Allah (swt).”
If school leaves your family with insufficient time and energy for Deen, consider alternatives. Thousands of Muslim families in the West have chosen home-schooling. It saves children from un-Islamic influences, allows priority to Deen and offers better worldly education that can be tailored to the child’s interests, pace and learning style, while simultaneously allowing for individual attention.
By gifting our children Islamic knowledge, we leave behind unimaginable Sadqaah Jaariyah for ourselves, while beautifying their futures. Here are some ideas. Choose what suits your family:
- Be a role-model. Learn Deen yourself. Recite and study the Quran daily. Study the Prophet’s (sa) Seerah, the Sahaba and pious predecessors. Attend classes. Listen to tapes. Late Khurram Murad (Daee, thinker, writer, director-general of Islamic Foundation) was educated at home till primary level. He dedicated his book “Way to the Quran” to his mother, saying: “At her knees I learnt to read the Quran, upon her insistence that I must learn Arabic, I was sent to the school Maulavi Saheb, who gave me the rudimentary knowledge, upon which I could build later; seeing her devotion to the Quran, reading it with understanding for hours and hours, kindled a spark in my heart, which has continued to illumine my way; and, finally, through her example and silent but solid support, I found my way to a life of struggle in the way of Allah.”
- Have a daily family Halaqah. Everyone can take part. Choose a topic. Alternatively, do Islamic stories, Hadeeth, reading from a book, quiz or game. Share with them the lessons of Quran, at their level.
- Children LOVE stories. Tell them the best stories ever: of Prophet (sa), other prophets, and Sahabahs.
- Get them Islamic books. Read to them. It will develop a love of reading and of beneficial literature. Darussalam, Goodword, American Trust Publications, Amana Publications, and Islamic Foundation have nice books. Read to them from your books.
- Make use of everyday moments and conversations by referring to the Quran and the Sunnah (without overdoing).
- Take them to Islamic classes. If not available, start your own. Invite their cousins and friends. Do Duas, Salah, Islamic stories, artwork, games and food. Lots of neat ideas on the net!
- It would be best, if father and mother work as a team. Mothers play the dominant role in teaching children (as they get more time), but it’s a joint duty. The Prophet (sa) said: “No father has given a greater gift to his children than good moral training.” (At-Tirmidhi)
- Check their textbooks, and if you find something objectionable, take it up with the school authorities. They spend 6-7 hours there daily. Ensure their learning is wholesome.
- Gradually cleanse their lives of ‘distractions’ (bad company, useless programmes, junk literature), so they may absorb the teachings of Islam.
Let’s give the future Muslims more than higher education. Let’s give them the ‘highest’ education!