How would one raise their children as pious Muslims in a non Muslim country? With all the modern day influence and media, what is hot and what is not? Holidays that are rarely ever holy days really, more like days of business and transactions. Schools not including Islam in their children’s social studies books or arts and crafts not being made for Islamic Holidays. Islam is not being introduced in a positive way. It is no where introduced to children except in their local mosques and maybe starting at 8th or 9th grade and unless we as parents or legal guardians take a stand, speak about Islam and make Islam part of the society we live in, Islam will always be a religion misunderstood!
Being a mother of two, I opened my eyes even more now than ever before. I’ve noticed the student’s curriculum and I’ve come to see that they have Christmas, Hanukkah and even Kwanza which is a much newer Religion than Islam. Yet there is no Eid! As a student myself, I have been approached numerous times about Islam, about my Hijab, about many basic Islamic topics and it makes me happy to inform them in Islam because most of the time they never heard half of the things I explain to them and it always opens up a new perspective of viewing Islam. At the same time I am shocked that they had absolutely no idea, except the negative aspect of Muslim women being oppressed! Which makes me wonder as to why till now have they no clue of Islam? They have been so misinterpreted by people of knowledge who claim to have answers (media, teachers, older generations, etc.,) which made them think otherwise.
With this being said, I would like to make my most valuable point in this discussion: in order to help our little Muslims be the best they could be at a young age, we must act! They are our future ummah / followers of our Prophet (peace be upon him). Saying we are Muslims does not cut it. If you don’t pray, fast, or even marry appropriately*, then do not expect it from those who look up to you. We are their first and foremost influence. They mimic every word we say, from a baby and as they get older they become more independent of their own mental choices and decisions. So do not wait till they are old and harder to teach that they no longer find you as their influence because they will not learn about Islam from anywhere except you.
*To Men– Before you choose a woman to marry, ask yourself if you can see your daughter as you see her. Vice-a-verse for woman.
*To Woman– Ask yourself if this man will raise your children according to the Quran and Sunnah? Vise-a-Verse for men.
Be a Role Model:
- In Prayer– For males, have the fathers take their sons to prayer with them. For females, have your daughter watch you pray or pray along with you.
- In Fasting– Older children can fast half a day (few hours, as practice and if they choose to). Younger children could be shown pictures of those who have no food and taught why we fast, as with all aged children.
- In daily lessons remember Allah subhaana wa ta’aala; speak of Him much. Examples could be when speaking of nature / the creation of Allah. How Allah created everything we see and how perfectly He made it for us. I don’t think a day should pass without speaking or remember Allah (swt) in some conversation with your children.
- In Manners/Akhlaq– If you expect your child to have manners, then we must not just tell them what to do but show them how it is done. When angry, do not yell; show them you are in control. When you make a mistake, say you are sorry. They see and hear everything you do, this will show them that we are all equal and we all make mistakes. (Learn the rights of a parent as the rights of your children.)
With these actions being done, your children have an idea where they stand. What their purpose is for. What kind of world we live in and how to act around others. Along with our actions we teach them about the prophets and morals that come from their stories, this is the Aqeedah / the belief. With these stories they will achieve Iman / faith and they will benefit from it by a better understanding of Islam.
Something I learned at a very young age is that one should always know where they are from and should know the history of Islam. You could speak of our Prophet Muhammad Sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam and how he had to teach stubborn people in Mecca during the Meccan period. Recite the short chapters in the Qur’an (meccan chapters.) These get straight to the point, being that your little ones might not have the patience to listen to a long chapter. These are not always taught because we are so caught up with where we are now, and the history of where and what we are today. Lack of this knowledge caused me to be an easy target as a child because I didn’t know how to defend myself or my race.
As a child, we all know bullying can be an issue and only knowledge could prevent such cruelty. Out smarting someone makes that individual feel embarrassed which will cause them to find another target. If your child can’t find his country on the map, then there is a problem. Teach your children where they are originally from and if there is any Islamic history there, speak of it. Make them proud! Because living in a non Muslim country could really make you feel like a 3rd world person as well.
Finally, the last point I would like to make is make your world an Islamic atmosphere. Go to Islamic educational events with your children. In the U.S, there was an Islamic history time line at the Science Museum of the all the Muslim mathematicians and scientists which told people what they created/discovered and when. This was very educational for my family and for myself; made me proud to see that many things were discovered by Muslims.
Islamic school is a must as well, unless you will teach your children Quran as well as Arabic, then that is great but Islamic school is good because they will see other Muslims like them (hopefully a positive influence.) They will do congregational prayer and strengthen each other. We have to try to introduce them to Muslim friends (become a unity) because after parents/guardians comes their friends and they will do as their friends do. Some may say why Arabic since there is translation, but it is known that Arabic is one touch cookie to crack. It is never 100% translated correctly. For example, one word in Arabic could mean 5 words in English. (Of course I am speaking of the Arabic in the Quran).
With this Insha Allah, our children will have a better upbringing, and we will stand in front of Allah and say we tried and we did all we could to put Islam in their life, and insha Allah they will grow and not be so crazy for the material things of this world, because they are above this idea of thinking mentally. When we teach them at an early age that these worldly things are just distractions from the truth and purpose of our being here, insha Allah they will make more accurate life decisions. Whether it is material things or just busy with this life, we much make sure our lives revolves around Allah subhaana wa ta’aala and not make our worldly issues a priority.
“Allah created all things and He is the agent on which all things depend.”
[Surah Az-Zumar 39: Verse 62]
Just a note: It is never too late to be a better influence. We are only basher / human flesh. We learn and gradually change. Islamic Law did not come down in one blow; rather it came down in revelations. So we learn as we go. Telling your children to be good Muslims when you are not, could back fire on you. So it is better to better yourself first, and be gentle on your children. Do not make them hate Islam. Forcing your children to obey could result in making them do just the opposite. The key here is to make them fear Allah and not you. This way you both could take steps together into becoming better Muslims overall.
- Qur’an (39:62)
- Sunnah (Hadith/Akhlaaq-Character, “Family Law”)