Fostering Islamic Culture In Children

Question

Guidance required on how to rear my child in pursuance of ways that inspire a child closer to Islamic Culture:

1. I have a six year old daughter. She is very fond of listening stories before she goes to sleep. In this regard my wife got some story books from the market. When I read some of those books I found that in the stories children are implicitly drawn into concepts such as dating which I deem very lethal for innocent children conscience. Can you please advise me some literature (publishing house/names of the books) specifically written for children in context of their upbringing in accordance with Islamic Tradition?

2- My second question is regarding general upbringing of children inline with Islamic tradition. What should I do in particular as a parent that would help me bring my child closer to Islam in a way that sounds appealing rather boring or compulsion to her?


Answer

Your enquiry is about bringing children "closer to Islam".

The question is, what does being "closer to Islam" mean, specially for a 6 years old kid. To many this means having them to wear what we consider to be Islamic dress, memorizing verses of the Qur'an (often without knowing their meaning), knowing what to say when sneezing or falling down, etc. knowing what we consider as the first Kalama of Islam and the list of articles of belief, etc.

While all the above are important in their own right, none of them are indications of being close to Islam.

I think specially for a 6 years old child, the indication of being close to Islam is to adopt a modest, balanced and normal behavior that could adjust his/her relationship with all the aspects of life, while appreciating the existence of God in his/her life and initiating a close relationship with Him.

This is a very sensitive subject and it can be best dealt with on a case to case basis.

However I can think of a series of measures that seem to be working for many (I am assuming that you are living in a Muslim country, for non-Muslim countries other measures need to be added):

1. Establish a friendly relationship with the kids

2. Keep them busy and engaged with healthy activities like sport, art, etc.

3. Keep them in the company of people who could be seen as role models and those who with their deeds would encourage them to be better

4. Set yourself (as parents) a good example of a Muslim for them

5. Spend time with them on one to one basis (father or mother with each of the children), not necessarily for Islamic discussions but simply to keep a healthy relationship with them

6. Distinguish between cultural and Islamic values as well as what is a matter of opinion and what is a necessary part of religion. Emphasis more on Islamic values and necessities and be more flexible about the rest. To do this, having a reasonable understanding of Islam and its premises for the parents is needed

7. If possible let them attend Islamic circles where basics of morals and religious aspects are being taught with passion, wisdom and kindness that is needed for educating a kid

8. Encourage the kids to practice some common religious activities (prayers, reading the Qur'an) with you. Read prayers in Jama'a at home - when you are not going to mosque - and encourage them to participate. Take them with you - as appropriate and when they are not too tired or engaged with their own activities - to mosque.

9. Encourage the kids to have the habit of asking any questions they wish even if they are questioning the most fundamental aspects of our belief and try to answer them or to find answer for them with passion and open mind

10. Pray for the well being and blessing for all the members of the family

11. Narrate for them stories of role models like the prophets, the companions and any other role model (even if not in the context of religion)

12. Read the Qur'an a lot in the house or play a nice recitation of the Qur'an regularly. Let the kids get used to the sound of it and occasionally and as appropriate discuss some of the verses that are being read with them. Let them understand and appreciate the beauty of the Qur'an.

As for story books, I know that there are many good books out there that can be used but I am not in a position to be able to recommend any to you.

Beside ordinary stories you may also take benefit of the stories of the prophets and companions of the Prophet (pbuh).

One website from where you can read some of these stories is as follows:

http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Articles/Prophet/default.htm

http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Articles/companion/default.htm

Please note that this does not mean that my colleagues or myself are in agreement with all that is written in the above website or that we consider all that is written there to be reliable.

Hope this helps.

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