As Muslims, it’s our duty to spread the word of Allah. As parents, this duty is exemplified. Parent’s are obligated to raise their children in the light of Islam.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:
ما مِن مَوْلُودٍ إلّا يُولَدُ على الفِطْرَةِ، فأبَواهُ يُهَوِّدانِهِ، ويُنَصِّرانِهِ، كما تُنْتِجُونَ البَهِيمَةَ، هلْ تَجِدُونَ فيها مِن جَدْعاءَ، حتّى تَكُونُوا أنتُمْ تَجْدَعُونَها؟ قالوا: يا رَسولَ الله: أفَرَأَيْتَ مَن يَمُوتُ وهو صَغِيرٌ؟ قالَ: الله أعْلَمُ بما كانُوا عامِلِينَ.
“No child is born but has the Islamic Faith, but its parents turn it into a Jew or a Christian. It is as you help the animals give birth. Do you find among their offspring a mutilated one before you mutilate them yourself?” The people said, “O Allah’s Messenger ﷺ! What do you think about those (of them) who die young?” The Prophet ﷺ said, “Allah knows what they would have done (were they to live).”
(صحيح البخاري: 6599)
This Hadith indicates that by nature, every child has ability to adopt the teachings of Islam without any difficulty and hard effort. Allah Almighty said in the Holy Quran:
فَأَقِمۡ وَجۡهَكَ لِلدِّینِ حَنِیفࣰاۚ فِطۡرَتَ ٱللَّهِ ٱلَّتِی فَطَرَ ٱلنَّاسَ عَلَیۡهَاۚ لَا تَبۡدِیلَ لِخَلۡقِ ٱللَّهِۚ ذَ ٰلِكَ ٱلدِّینُ ٱلۡقَیِّمُ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكۡثَرَ ٱلنَّاسِ لَا یَعۡلَمُونَ
So be steadfast in faith in all uprightness ˹O Prophet˺—the natural Way of Allah which He has instilled in ˹all˺ people. Let there be no change in this creation of Allah. That is the Straight Way, but most people do not know.
The very important and basic duty of the parents is to train their children according to the Quran and Sunnah. As the Holy Prophet ﷺ said:
أَلاَ كُلُّكُمْ رَاعٍ، وَكُلُّكُمْ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ، … وَالرَّجُلُ رَاعٍ عَلَى أَهْلِ بَيْتِهِ وَهْوَ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ، وَالْمَرْأَةُ رَاعِيَةٌ عَلَى أَهْلِ بَيْتِ زَوْجِهَا وَوَلَدِهِ وَهِيَ مَسْئُولَةٌ عَنْهُمْ … أَلاَ فَكُلُّكُمْ رَاعٍ وَكُلُّكُمْ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ
“Surely! Every one of you is a guardian and is responsible for his charges: … a man is the guardian of his family (household) and is responsible for his subjects; a woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and of his children and is responsible for them … Surely, every one of you is a guardian and responsible for his charges.”
(صحيح البخاري: 7138)
Ibn al-Qayyim رحمه اللهsays: “Whoever neglects the education of his child of what will benefit him and leaves it in waste, then he has committed a very bad act. Most of the children were corrupted by the parents, neglecting them, and forsaking their teaching.”
As Muslims, we know that the Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ life is the role model for all the Muslim, let’s see how the Prophet ﷺ teachings guide us in teaching kids about Islam.
When Sayyidna Abdullah bin Abbas رضي الله عنهما was a boy, he went on a journey with the Messenger of Allahﷺ . He says that I was behind the Prophet ﷺ one day when he said:
يَا غُلاَمُ إِنِّي أُعَلِّمُكَ كَلِمَاتٍ احْفَظِ الله يَحْفَظْكَ احْفَظِ الله تَجِدْهُ تُجَاهَكَ إِذَا سَأَلْتَ فَاسْأَلِ الله وَإِذَا اسْتَعَنْتَ فَاسْتَعِنْ بِالله وَاعْلَمْ أَنَّ الأُمَّةَ لَوِ اجْتَمَعَتْ عَلَى أَنْ يَنْفَعُوكَ بِشَيْءٍ لَمْ يَنْفَعُوكَ إِلاَّ بِشَيْءٍ قَدْ كَتَبَهُ الله لَكَ وَلَوِ اجْتَمَعُوا عَلَى أَنْ يَضُرُّوكَ بِشَيْءٍ لَمْ يَضُرُّوكَ إِلاَّ بِشَيْءٍ قَدْ كَتَبَهُ الله عَلَيْكَ رُفِعَتِ الأَقْلاَمُ وَجَفَّتِ الصُّحُفُ.
“O boy! I will teach you a statement: Be mindful of Allah and He will protect you. Be mindful of Allah and you will find Him before you. When you ask, ask Allah, and when you seek aid, seek Allah’s aid. Know that if the entire creation were to gather together to do something to benefit you- you would never get any benefit except that Allah had written for you. And if they were to gather to do something to harm you- you would never be harmed except that Allah had written for you. The pens are lifted and the pages are dried”
This hadith and commandment to Abdullah bin Abbas رضي الله عنهما while he was still a boy, a great origin in the prophetic approach to teaching youngers about their beliefs, educating them on it, directing them to attach their hearts to Allah, seeking His help, trusting in Him etc.
On the very same way, Sayyidna Umar bin Salamah رضي الله عنه says that “I was a boy under the care of Allah’s Messenger ﷺ and my hand used to go around the dish while I was eating. So, Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said to me:
يَا غُلاَمُ سَمِّ الله، وَكُلْ بِيَمِينِكَ وَكُلْ مِمَّا يَلِيكَ
“O boy! Mention the Name of Allah and eat with your right hand, and eat of the dish what is nearer to you.”
Sayyidna Umar bin Salamah رضي الله عنه says: “Since then I have applied those instructions when eating.”
(صحيح البخاري: 5376)
Ar-Rubai bint Muauwidh رضي الله عنها said: The Prophet ﷺ came to me the night my marriage was consummated and sat down on my bed as you (the sub-narrator) are sitting now, and small girls were beating the tambourine and singing in lamentation of my father who had been killed on the day of the battle of Badr. Then one of the girls said:
“There is a Prophet amongst us who knows what will happen tomorrow.”
The Prophet (ﷺ) said (to her):
لاَ تَقُولِي هَكَذَا، وَقُولِي مَا كُنْتِ تَقُولِينَ
“Do not say this, but go on saying what you have spoken before.”
(صحيح البخاري: 4001)
When the Prophet ﷺ heard from the young girl a saying contrary to monotheism, by attributing to him ﷺ that he knew what would come, he taught her what she should say, and prevented her from repeating her words.
Ibn Hajar رحمه الله said: “Rather, he denied what he mentioned of praise when he gave the knowledge of the unseen to him, and it is an attribute that is specific to Almighty Almighty.”
Hence, it is the duty of fathers and mothers to instill in the hearts of their children the meanings of the correct Islamic belief in an easy manner that suits their ages.
The Holy Prophet ﷺ has commanded the parents to train their children for the prayer (salah) from a young age. As he ﷺ said:
مُرُوا أَوْلاَدَكُمْ بِالصَّلاَةِ وَهُمْ أَبْنَاءُ سَبْعِ سِنِينَ وَاضْرِبُوهُمْ عَلَيْهَا وَهُمْ أَبْنَاءُ عَشْرِ سِنِينَ وَفَرِّقُوا بَيْنَهُمْ فِي الْمَضَاجِعِ
“Command your children to pray when they become seven years old, and beat them for it (prayer) when they become ten years old; and arrange their beds (to sleep) separately.”
(سنن أبي داود: 495)
Once Al-Hasan bin `Ali رضي الله عنهما took a date from the dates given in charity and put it in his mouth. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:
“كِخٍ كِخٍ ـ لِيَطْرَحَهَا ثُمَّ قَالَ ـ أَمَا شَعَرْتَ أَنَّا لاَ نَأْكُلُ الصَّدَقَةَ”
“Expel it from your mouth. Don’t you know that we do not eat a thing which is given in charity?”
(صحيح البخاري: 1491)
This was the prophetic way to teach the kid about Islam. Parents, teachers, trainers and guardians should train the children according to these rules and pearls of wisdom.
It is a very common thing to understand that children follow the footsteps and habits of the elders. They do what they see. So, in the sense to teach children Islam, it is necessary for the elders to strictly act upon the teachings of Islam.
The secret behind the commands of the prophet ﷺ to perform many acts of worship like reciting the Holy Quran, offering the postnatal prayer, giving charity in the presence of offspring from them etc. is to create an environment of Islamic society.
Parents should follow these steps to teach their children the teachings of Islam:
1. When a child makes a mistake or acts against the teachings of Islam, explain it with love as we saw in the previous hadiths.
2. Encourage your child to do good.
3. Be good yourself. Your children will automatically become good.
4. Teach children the teachings of religion at every step.
5. Keep an eye on children’s society. Avoid them from bad company.
7. If you have to hit for the sake of training a child, hit only so that he realizes his mistake and not to create a feeling of inferiority.
On one hand the current times have posed a challenge for parents in upbringing their children, on the other hand it has also opened a number of new opportunities. No doubt there are a lot more distractions in the world today that lead children astray but the same technology and media that can mislead can also be used for better purposes.
There is no limit on the resources that are available today for learning about Islam. There are a wide expanse of Kids Islamic books available from various publishers. Similarly we have TV channels, Youtube channels and websites dedicated to teaching kids about Islam. Hence when we have been equipped with so much help, it leaves no reason as to why we shouldn’t be able to raise our kids as righteous Muslims.
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