Children are one of the greatest gifts of Allah (SWT) that He can bestow upon His slaves. However, bearing and raising children is no easy task because as we know it, great blessings come with greater responsibilities. Every parent has an unsaid obligation to raise his/her children in line with the teachings of the Holy book of Allah (SWT), the Quran, and the Prophetic traditions, Hadith and Sunnah.
As narrated by ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said:“Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock…a man is a shepherd in charge of the inhabitants of his household and he is responsible for his flock; a woman is a shepherdess in charge of her husband’s house and children and she is responsible for them…So each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock.” (Abu Dawood, 2928)
The task becomes even more daunting for parents raising kids in non-Muslim countries. More than just a gift, children are an ‘amaanah’ of Allah (SWT) and every single parent will be questioned regarding the matter on the Last Day. It is the duty of the parents to ensure that their children grow up to be good human beings and above all, good practicing Muslims. In today’s world, more emphasis is placed on academic excellence and being financially successful in life but in that, we forget the main purpose of this life – to be an obedient and loving servant of Allah (SWT) i.e. to be a good Muslim. More than schools and even Islamic academies, the main institution of learning for a child is his/her household: their family institution. It is the everyday value system that is integrated in the child, which moulds their spiritual personalities. Hence, teaching them to be good servants of Allah (SWT) is indeed no easy feat.
Here are some practical tips for how you can inculcate Islamic values in your child in everyday life:
1. Practice what you preach
The very first step is to practice the Islamic teachings yourself and then preach it to your child. The parent must be a good role model himself/herself because children tend to internalize the beliefs and actions of their parents from a very young age. They pick up habits unconsciously. Hence, it is important that the parent practices Islam in his/her daily life as well so children have a practical example in front of them, which is basically easier for them to follow. You can take your kids to the mosque with you for Jumma (Friday) prayers or make it a habit to offer Salah with them so that they learn to pray from an early age. You have to become involved in the process yourself because if you teach your child certain Islamic traditions and values and fail to practice them yourself, your own words will lose credibility.
2. Teach them the importance and significance of Worship:
Instead of only focusing on the theoretical basics of Islam, teach them WHY Islam teaches us what it teaches us; rationalize it for their better understanding. Teach them the significance of worship of Allah (SWT) so they may understand the gravity of it. Children will not be able to internalize something that they do not fully comprehend. Teach them what worship really means – to deeply connect with Allah (SWT) and to commit to him fully. Teach them the Greatness and Supremeness of Allah (SWT) and all that He is. It is the parent’s duty to make the child understand that it is a fundamental part of being a Muslim to worship Allah (SWT) and Him alone. Make it a habit to remind them about the real purpose of this world and this life: to worship Allah (SWT) and to turn to Him in all walks of life.
3. Make their Islamic education a top-priority
Instead of just focusing on the child’s academic excellence, put in an effort to work on their spiritual education as well. Get your child in the habit of reading and provide them with good reading material; books on the basics of Islam, attributes of Allah (SWT), the Prophets of Islam, the Prophet’s companions etc. so they can look up to Islamic role models in their life as opposed to famous pop-stars and celebrities. Moreover, even if you have a super busy schedule, take out some time to recite the Quran with them (even if it is just a page or two) and tell them stories of the beloved Prophets of Allah (SWT) in imaginative narratives because children tend to respond more to stories and will most likely develop a greater interest in their own religion and its history.
4. Make the basics a routine
Children are essentially like a blank canvas; it is up to the parents how they choose to paint or mould that canvas. Children, being very malleable at a young age, are shaped easily by the routines and habits set by their parents. For example, get your child in the habit of offering their Salah on a daily basis from a young age i.e. 7-8 years so they get into the habit of praying and explain to them how praying is a mode of communication with Allah (SWT). Just like Salah, you can also get your children to start fasting off and on from a young age so they are prepared for the obligatory fasting in Ramadan which is a source of cleansing and purification for the soul. Moreover, you can recite Surahs and Kalimas with them daily before bedtime. This will help them memorize the Surahs/Kalimas more quickly.
Raising your children to be good Muslims is a blessed task bestowed upon all parents. Parenting is not only an honorable feat, but it is a difficult one. Hence, parents must implement different techniques to inculcate Islamic values in their children, which can serve them well in the long run. Be kind and gentle with your children and teach them the ways of Islam, not by force, but through example.
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