This is article was written by Sister Uzma Khan. It is an extremely relevant article in this day and time when so many Muslims in the West are concerned about their children’s upbringing. Please read it and share with other.
Where Does Allah Live?
“Where does Allah live?” My 5 year old nephew asked me once. His question made me reflect over the answer and also about the fact that it is important for children to look for logical answers to everything they are told.
Before I go any further, I must clarify that I am not an advocate of logical reasoning for the sake of it because as Muslims we believe that the existence of Allah Almighty or Akihra is neither dependent on any evidence nor does it require any ‘proof’ but that these concepts can be explained through logic as well. Doing things habitually results in mechanical actions while doing something from heart, for a reason leads to enlightenment and fulfillment.
Does our mere birth in a Muslim family and having a Muslim name make us a Muslim? Technically this is true yet taking the shahadah from heart gains more importance compared to saying the words verbally. The reason is that as children we start doing certain acts simply because we see our parents doing those things and later our surroundings and grownups become a direct source of learning for mus.
This is true for many Muslim families and it is quite fine for adults to set the trend. But leaving it at that is what makes it a neglected area. Religion is not taught or explained to the youngsters the way it should be done and the self discovery may take a long time.
What can we do as grownups/parents to ensure that we raise conscious Muslim children? Young people; who take pride in their religion/identity and are able to follow Islamic principles for the right reasons. A teenage Muslim girl for example observes hijab not just because her parents asks her to do so or because it looks nice or it is the latest fad but because she knows that she is doing it to seek the pleasure of Allah Almighty and to follow His command and also because it has so many advantages for her.
Next follows five tips on raising awareness about our religion amongst youngsters.
1. Thinking Questions and Answers
Try to answer children’s questions logically and have them develop a sense of respect for their Creator. So the answers like Allah lives everywhere or He lives in the heart and mind of every person are as valid* as the more conventional ones that the Almighty lives in the sky. Also ask certain questions from young ones which lead them to think and find the truth. For example: Why do we pray? Because Allah has asked us to do so, to say thanks to Allah, to stay connected to Allah, to recharge our batteries, so that our prayers benefit us in the world hereafter and so on.
2. Know the meanings.
Translating Quranic text, kalmias, darood, etc. into the mother tongue of the child results in better understanding of what is being said. Rote learning/memorization of such stuff without knowing the meaning does not result in real comprehension. It has to be explained in simple language that child can understand.
3. Look up the reference books.
If we don’t know the meaning of a word we look it up in a dictionary similarly we need to tell our kids that if they have questions whose answers they can’t find then they need to look up the reference Books, Quran and Authentic Hadith in this case.
4. Family traditions and cultural customs should be open to questions.
Children should not be snubbed from questioning any tradition. The explanation that “we are doing this since your grandparents’ time” is not valid enough. Allow children to question any tradition in the family or society. Answer their queries with authentic references from Quran and Sunnah and accept that some of the customs may have absolutely no basis in the religion or may be in clash with Islamic teachings.
5. Practice what you preach.
It’s important that parents know their ‘deen’ themselves and that they are not doing any act of ‘ibbadah’ merely as a habit but because they know its significance as the intention of doing something matters a lot in our religion.
Following these simple rules can help us in raising Muslim children who would be well aware of their deen. They would be good practicing Muslims, better guards of their faith and its best propagators.
* The consensus of Sunni scholars hold that Allah is above His creation and does not physically exist everywhere. This is also the position of Islamic Learning Materials and Romantic Muslim. – Muttaqi Ismail