How to raise a muslim child

Raise your kid to be a good Muslim in line with the Islamic principles.

Wednesday March 28, 2018

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.

How to raise a muslim child

Our children are an amanah from Allah swt. The best gift we can give our Muslim children is a proper upbringing. But as parents we can all agree that parenting can be confusing and daunting as babies do not come with an instruction manual. On top, each child is different making our job as parents even more harder. Parenting really is the hardest job ever. So what effective approach can parents follow to upbring children who can be successful in this world and next?

I took a few parenting class at our local masjid taught by Shaykh Yaser Birjas. I’ve heard him mention this below Hadith a few times in the last 2-3 years. As I thought more and more about this Hadith, I realized Islam has provided some wonderful guidelines for parents in order to raise our children.

“Play with them for the first seven years (of their life); then teach them for the next seven years; then advise them for the next seven years (and after that).”
– Prophet Mohammed (pbuh)

The above Hadith of the Prophet gives us the guidance to divide the upbringing of a child into three stages.

First Seven Years(0-7)

This is the time to let the child play but roll up the parenting sleeves to build a strong connection to our child. These are the formation years when a child is constantly influenced by the surroundings and learns by observing.

Children imitate their parents more than anyone. If you find any undesired behavior in your child, check if you, your spouse or a caregiver has acted similarly in front of your child.

These are the foundation years, the base from which the relationship with them grows. If this is rock solid, the remaining years will be much easier. If this foundation forms poorly, the next years will be more challenging.

How to raise a muslim child

Next Seven Years(7-14)

Once children reach seven, they are ready for logical reasoning and Islamic ethics. This is the time when children are sponges, ready to soak up anything and everything you show, teach, and tell them.

The second stage of upbringing is the time to teach them secular and religious knowledge, halal vs haram, and all the things they need to know. Teach them sports, too;

Prophet (pbuh) said: “Teach your children swimming, archery and horseback riding.” So teach them sports too. Sports have many benefits including teamwork, leadership, sportsmanship and physical fitness.

At this stage, children are young and they are still in the process of learning what is right and what is wrong. It is the parents’ responsibility to teach the child how to behave, how to choose his environment and decide which type of people to fill that environment with, so that they can continue to do what is best for them.

Without boundaries, society would be in chaos. Similarly, children need a set of boundaries to guide their behavior, which gives the children the freedom to act and behave. If they do not know what the boundaries are then they do not know what is acceptable and what is not.

If children are taught beforehand what is correct and good behavior, then they will have the guidelines to act within the boundaries and will not be left wondering and confused.

As parent, set rules and boundaries for everyone in the family (including yourself!) and take care to explain to your children why they must obey them. Children love logical reasoning, so let them ask questions while you calmly explain.

The Final Seven Years(14-21)

Once your child hits 14(or puberty), children achieve independence and they develop their own personality.

During these critical years, befriend them, advise them, and do what you can; understand that they are now full adults according to Islam, and the choices are theirs to make, right or wrong. As parents, our responsibility is to advice them.

I sincerely pray that Allah swt guides each of us to establish a trusting relationship with our children and we be their trusted confidant, that advisor, that go-to person when they need help or advice; maybe even that “cool” mom or dad who they adore.

I pray for a close, loving, happy and fulfilling relationship with our children for all the days of our lives and to be reunited with them in Jannat ul Firdaus. Ameen.

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How to raise a muslim child

How to raise a muslim child

It can be different to raise your children in a non-Muslim country, particularly if you want them to be good practicing Muslims. At the same time, it’s hardly impossible. Plenty of parents have done so and plenty of children feel none the worse for it.

Of course, to make sure it goes well there are some important tips you’ll need to consider. These will both make it easier for your children and for you. And that’s important, as life is often difficult enough already that we don’t want to add to it. Am I right?

Be a part of your children’s lives

The very first thing you’re going to have to do is make sure you’re actually there for your children. This means not falling into the materialism trap. It’s better to work a little less and not have that expensive car, if that means you can support your kids and give them the guidance they need.

After all, when they’re living in a non-muslim country there are far more temptations out there. And though they can certainly be guarded against those, this does take a more active parenting role than it might do elsewhere.

Read the Quran together

Also, bas they will not get any religious teaching at school, you will have to do so with them. The best way to start is to read the Quran with them often – preferably every day. It doesn’t have to be long, but it should be done. Perhaps after dinner or before bed.

Allow them to ask questions – children will always be filled with curiosity. These questions could both be about what you’re reading as how what you’re reading will apply to what they’re going through.

Attend a Halaqa

You don’t have to do it alone. In fact, it is much better not to. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child. For that reason, make sure that you engage with the correct village. If there is no Halaqa in your community, then communicate with your Imam about setting one up.

In this way, you’ll have a chance for your kids and you to engage with fellow Muslims. Even better, this will allow your children to have friends in these communities. These will be there to help him and support him with the questions and problems they don’t feel they can discuss with adults (there are always some) while still keeping to the teachings of Allah.

Understand how the children of the culture you’re in are raised

There will be cultural differences between countries. These differences will also be between how you were raised or how children back home were raised and how the children in the new culture are raised. This will happen whether you move to a non-Muslim country or another Muslim one. These differences create certain expectations and ideas, which your children will be exposed to – whether from other parents or from other children.

If you do not know what these expectations and ideas are, then there is a good chance they will blindside you. For that reason, be aware of them. Try to understand them. Discuss them with your Imam in necessary to find out what is okay and what is unacceptable.

Then, when the issue hits you’ll be in a much better position to make a fair judgement and defend it correctly. This will go down much better than a decision made in haste or in anger.

Collect religious teachings

There are many books, tapes and DVDs about Islam. So why not create a library?

By making your kids responsible for tending the library and even possibly suggesting new volumes and DVDs that you should collect, they’re going to have a much better idea what’s out there. Even better, they’ll be able to satisfy their intellectual curiosity by looking for materials which answer the questions they have.

Another advantage is that you can get an idea of what they’re going through and experiencing by paying attention to what they’re suggesting that you get. Of course this will only work if you do not automatically dismiss what they want to order or buy. Listen to them and consider what they’re saying. Because if you don’t and instead get angry, there is a good chance they won’t approach you with such a strange idea again – which will close this window into your child’s religious soul.

Be careful of ‘men’s Islam’

One particular area to be aware of is that in many non-Muslim countries there is a lot of stress about women and men being treated the same and getting the same rights and responsibilities. This needs to be accommodated into how you teach and pray in your home.

For example, make sure that if you read the prayer, it is loud enough so that everybody can hear, as well as allowing everybody to pray together.

Last word

There are going to be a lot of conflicting voices for your child in a non-Muslim country. That’s okay, as long as you make sure that your voice is the foremost among them. The only way to achieve that is to make sure you know what your child is going through and what they’re experiencing and to share that with them. As long as they trust you, they will bring their problems to you. And as long as they do that, you can make sure that Allah stays in their lives.

How to raise a muslim child

I remember reading a quote before I had children. I don’t remember who the quote was by and can’t seem to find the original one online. But nevertheless it spoke about how the righteous predecessors raised their children. It was divided into 3 life stages from infancy to adulthood:

Stage 1: 0-7 years old, model good behaviors, and play with your children
Stage 2: 7-14 years is the time for discipline, teaching the child right and wrong.
Stage 3: 14- 21 years be their friend/ companion.

When I read it years ago, it made sense, and recently I was researching how to raise my children with an Islamic upbringing. I wanted them to be motivated kids who pray, fast and do good deeds because they want to please Allah and not because they are afraid of me or my husband. I was researching on how kids where raised by the Sahabah, and those who came after them. And for some reason I remembered this quote and if I ever do find it, I will be sure to make a poster to hang it up.

I think this is a great starting point, especially because as parents we worry about our children’s future. We worry about things we have no control over. We wonder how our kids will be when they are 16 years old. Will they have good manners? Will they treat others with respect? Wallaahu alam (Allah knows best). But I do understand that all we can do is focus on the present, and we need to nurture the 0-7 year old and give them our attention. We need to give them their rights and treat them with respect. The kind of respect that understands their abilities, encourages their independence and respects their “choices”. And most importantly allow them to be children.

“A child is like soft clay which we can shape according to our treatment of it.” (Dr Mohammad ‘Abd Al-Rahman Al-‘Arifi)

As an adult, there are times when I wish I was a child again, without a care in the world. I wish I could go back to that time when I had no responsibilities and was carefree. (Don’t we all wish that for ourselves at times?) Yet, as parents we tend take that away that special part of childhood away from our children. We want them to make us proud and introduce too much too soon. Maybe, it is the competition with other parents that leads to this, as we are trying to make sure they are better than other muslim kids, and that they have memorized more Quran and hadith than them. Not that there is anything wrong with that but if it’s pushed on a child at a very young age it can have detrimental consequences. That is why many are trying to reform current school systems which they believe robs kids of the ability to play and puts too much emphasis on formal learning.

Parenting is one of those things you learn as you go along. (At least that’s what I keep telling myself.) I am sure my parenting style will continue to change and be influenced by many factors around me, but for now at least I have found a foundation to build upon.

How would you describe your parenting style ?

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How to raise a muslim child

Many Muslim families debate whether to send their children to public schools or Islamic schools. Whatever the parents choose for their children, parents must always remember that whatever environment they choose for their children, they must do their best to guide them.

Some parents feel that simply having their children attend Islamic schools relieves them of their duties as parents. Of course, this is not true.

Yet, there are far too many parents who subscribe to this way of thinking.

Muslims in public schools: An insider’s view

As a teacher in the public school system, I also see the problems of having a Muslim child attend a school where the values of the school don’t necessarily match that of the child’s Islamic upbringing. So what are we to do?

The answer, I feel, lies in our ability to parent as well as in helping build our children’s own Islamic identity.

Parents often wonder what it takes to raise their children in this Western society, which doesn’t have the sense of Halal and Haram that we Muslims do.

But what are we teaching our children at home that helps them to deal with such issues?

Starting the real teaching of our kids at home

Are we fostering in our children a sense of pride in our Deen? We are so busy trying to make ends meet in our day-to-day struggle to survive that our children’s Islamic upbringing is being neglected.

As parents we want our children to be successful doctors, lawyers and engineers. How many of us want our children to be good Muslims as well as successful professionals today? I see too many Muslim children who try to hide their Islam in the public school setting.

In America, the great melting pot, it is easier to try to fit in than stand out in the crowd. But that is human nature, is it not? How many of us parents do the same at work?

Building Islamic identity in your kids: Some tips

The answer then lies in our ability to keep our Islamic identity in a non-Muslim society, as well as help our children to develop a Muslim identity of their own.

From personal experience, I have found out that we need to be with good practicing Muslims if we are to develop a Muslim identity.

The same is true for our children.

  • Be active in your local Muslim community.
  • Be a part of the solution to your community’s problems.
  • Organize and support youth groups that foster your children’s strong sense of Islamic identity.
  • Get together with other Muslim families and organize group activities for the children like group outings, camps, picnics, etc.
  • Also, have a knowledgeable family member give them Quranic as well as Islamic lessons to help them further develop their knowledge of their Deen.

Be more than a parent to your child

Most of all, be a friend to your child.

Listen to his or her problems and help him to solve them Islamically.

Make your child active in finding the solution to their problem. Don’t try to shelter your child from the harshness of reality.

If you are not open-minded and helpful in resolving their problems, they will find someone else who is, and that person may not have the proper Islamic perspective.

As far as the specific problems your child encounters in the public school system, they are the problems of the Western society in which we live.

Drugs, violence, sexual promiscuity, lack of respect for the authority and an attitude that everyone should be respected regardless of his/her morality are but just a few.

The good news is that these are the problems to which only Islam offers the correct solution.

Finding common ground with non-Muslims

I was surprised to note that there are a lot of conservative Christians and Jews who are raising their children in the same way.

I have a Methodist coworker who is a very firm believer in Allah’s control over all of our fate. When she asks me about my future as a teacher, I answer that I leave the future to Allah. I can only do my best to attain my goals, but ultimately it is Allah who knows what will be and what is best for us. So we should always pray to Him for guidance.

She agreed with me wholeheartedly and commented that unlike other Christians, she was a firm believer in Allah’s control over fate. This was the first time I had encountered a non-Muslim with this sense of Tawakul.

I guess that the bottom line is that no matter what environment we choose for our children, we must remember that the role we play as parents to teach our children their religion and help them to develop pride in it is crucial.

Let’s all work together as an Islamic community to help ourselves and to help our children be good Muslims.

Sister Sahar El-Shafie teaches Social Studies to sixth and seventh graders at Martin Middle, a public school in Raleigh, North Carolina. She has coordinated several youth programs and understands their problems very closely.

This article was originally published in the Fall 1998 issue of Noor magazine.

How to raise a muslim child

Thanks to a small number of Muslims and large chunks of the mainstream media, Islam has gained a reputation for severity and harshness. When it comes to the way we raise our children this can often be true, but usually due to our cultural backgrounds more than our faith.

Image Credit: Flickr

Childrearing and Discipline in Islam

My parents and grandparents grew up in Pakistan where it was the norm to be smacked by your parents, extended relations, and anyone else that happened to be around and in a bad mood. It was also okay to be given a smack ’round the head for doing something you shouldn’t have, for watching someone else doing it, maybe for not stopping them or maybe again because someone was in a bad mood. Once they had immigrated to England, my parent’s generation did not quite realize that simply transferring the parenting methods of rural Punjab/Gujrat/Dhaka/Sylhet to East London might not be sufficient to bring up your child in the best possible way (I have so many happy memories of being chased by my mum flip-flop held aloft).

There is also the traditional South Asian thinking that a good child is an obedient child, smacked and yelled into submission by a parent who knows best. How do you tell such parents about feeling left out because you dress differently, weighing up the way you feel about clothes, boys, life in general as a teenager with the need to please your parents and be a good Muslim? Who do you talk to about peer pressure, bullying, or all the other things that confuse kids?

This is not to denigrate my parents or all the others out there who have struggled to reconcile two cultures, their faith, modern life, and all of the issues that face immigrants, with bringing up their child in the best way that they could. At the same time, they have also had to try and square Western and Eastern concepts of how a well-raised child should be. Is it any wonder that they and we were so confused?

What we have to examine is whether the new generation of parents who are disinclined to smack their children are leaving a vacuum with respect to managing the behavior of children. If we don’t smack, how do we get our children to listen to and respect us? Have we gone from physically abusing our children to setting no parental boundaries for them at all?

I love the Islamic concept that when we do things with the aim of pleasing Allah we engage in worship, even if they are just everyday actions. So cooking a meal is a chore, but cooking with the aim of pleasing Allah by feeding his creation and eating to take care of the body he gave you as an Amanah (trust) becomes an act of worship.

Image Credit: Flickr

Similarly, childrearing can be hard and challenging work, but when engaged in with the intention of pleasing Allah and carrying out the work he has assigned to us, it becomes an act of worship from beginning to end. The waking in the night, the cleaning of stuff that makes other people leave the room, the difficulties of breastfeeding, the fatigue, the duty to be mindful of what you say and do, having to constantly watch your little ones—all become the living, breathing, walking, waking worship.

Muslims believe that through our words, our soothing, our chores, all of the small kindnesses of a mother and father, Allah elicits from our worship and forgives us our sins. With this thinking in mind, it becomes much harder to smack a child and much easier to take a breath and act rationally.

Islam encourages us to follow the example of the Prophet (peace be upon him) when it comes to our everyday lives including raising our children. His approach to his family was epitomized with gentleness and compassion. There is a hadith, or Prophetic tradition, in Islam that says:

Abu Salmah narrated that Abu Hurayrah said, “The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) kissed Hasan ibn ‘Ali (his grandson) while Aqra’ ibn Habis was sitting nearby. Aqra’ said, ‘I have ten children and have never kissed one of them.’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) looked at him and said, ‘Those who show no mercy will be shown no mercy.’” (Bukhari, Volume No. 91)

This tells me that affection and mercy towards our children is a necessity if we wish for the same. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was also never known to hit a child. Instead, a Muslim parent is encouraged to teach by a good example and discouraged from disciplining until the child is seven years old. At seven years, the child begins the age of tarbiyyah, or good upbringing. These are the years requiring firmness and instruction in educating the child and teaching them good manners—again the focus is on firmness and not violence. Once the child reaches puberty, the parents’ role becomes one of friend and mentor as the child is considered to be old enough to be responsible for their own actions.

I like this idea of a gentler, more peaceful parenting—less friction, and more kindness. I like the idea that it’s okay to indulge your children sometimes and say yes to them. We don’t have to behave like tyrants. It’s okay for the house to be a mess, for your kids not to be reading Shakespeare by six and joining Mensa by eight. It’s okay not to be perfect. I am coming to realize that parenting is a learning process; we are scared because we only get one chance with each of our children. But I realized some time ago, thanks to my oldest daughter, that when we make a mistake, we can stop, apologize and agree to try again. Every day is a new day and a new chance at doing things in the best way we can.

So when we need to discipline our children, we could hit them, but how would it make us feel to make a mistake or disagree with our employers or spouse and be smacked for it? How do we prefer to be told? Discreetly, gently and with patience surely. Perhaps we could stop and do the same for our children, thinking of it as our daily worship.

My parenting style? Like my parents, a little confused. When I ask nicely, explain and let things go, my family calls me English mum. When I lose it and shout and issue orders, they call me Punjabi mum. I guess I am still learning, with my faith as a guide.

Instead of saying “Come on, let’s go!” maybe you could have picked him up and twirled him around and said something sweet, and by the time he knows it he’s fifty yards from there, but happy to be with his happy mom.

How to raise a muslim child

I remember reading a quote before I had children. I don’t remember who the quote was by and can’t seem to find the original one online. But nevertheless it spoke about how the righteous predecessors raised their children. It was divided into 3 life stages from infancy to adulthood:

Stage 1: 0-7 years old, model good behaviors, and play with your children
Stage 2: 7-14 years is the time for discipline, teaching the child right and wrong.
Stage 3: 14- 21 years be their friend/ companion.

When I read it years ago, it made sense, and recently I was researching how to raise my children with an Islamic upbringing. I wanted them to be motivated kids who pray, fast and do good deeds because they want to please Allah and not because they are afraid of me or my husband. I was researching on how kids where raised by the Sahabah, and those who came after them. And for some reason I remembered this quote and if I ever do find it, I will be sure to make a poster to hang it up.

I think this is a great starting point, especially because as parents we worry about our children’s future. We worry about things we have no control over. We wonder how our kids will be when they are 16 years old. Will they have good manners? Will they treat others with respect? Wallaahu alam (Allah knows best). But I do understand that all we can do is focus on the present, and we need to nurture the 0-7 year old and give them our attention. We need to give them their rights and treat them with respect. The kind of respect that understands their abilities, encourages their independence and respects their “choices”. And most importantly allow them to be children.

“A child is like soft clay which we can shape according to our treatment of it.” (Dr Mohammad ‘Abd Al-Rahman Al-‘Arifi)

As an adult, there are times when I wish I was a child again, without a care in the world. I wish I could go back to that time when I had no responsibilities and was carefree. (Don’t we all wish that for ourselves at times?) Yet, as parents we tend take that away that special part of childhood away from our children. We want them to make us proud and introduce too much too soon. Maybe, it is the competition with other parents that leads to this, as we are trying to make sure they are better than other muslim kids, and that they have memorized more Quran and hadith than them. Not that there is anything wrong with that but if it’s pushed on a child at a very young age it can have detrimental consequences. That is why many are trying to reform current school systems which they believe robs kids of the ability to play and puts too much emphasis on formal learning.

Parenting is one of those things you learn as you go along. (At least that’s what I keep telling myself.) I am sure my parenting style will continue to change and be influenced by many factors around me, but for now at least I have found a foundation to build upon.

How would you describe your parenting style ?

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06.Surah Al- An’am
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