For Muslim Mums

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Children In The Masjid

Didn't the prophet (SAW) show us how best to behave from his sunnah? MashaAllah.

By Um Walid

Nowadays, it is unfortunate that in many masjids both brothers and sisters are annoyed at the presence of children. A cry from a baby or a roaming toddler can sometimes illicit a rude comment. As always, our best example is the prophet (saws). These hadith illustrate the prophet (saws) attitude at the presence of children in the masjid.

The Messenger of Allah (saws) came out to us for one of the two later prayers (dhuhr or asr), carrying Hasan or Hussein. The Prophet (saws) then came to the front and put him down (next to his right foot) said takbir for the prayer and commenced praying. During the prayer, he performed a very long prostration, so I raised my head and there was the child, on the back of the Messenger of Allah (saws), who was in prostration. I then returned to my prostration. When the Messenger of Allah (saws) had offered the prayer, the people said: 'O Messenger of Allah! in the middle of your prayer, you performed prostration and lengthened it so much that we thought either something had happened or that you were receiving revelation!' He said: 'Neither was the case. Actually, my son made me his mount, and I did not want to hurry him until he had satisfied his wish.'" (Reported by Nasaa'i, Ibn Asaakir, and Haakim)

"He (the Prophet (saws)) was praying. When he performed sajdah, Hasan and Hussein jumped onto his back. When the people tried to stop them, he gestured them to leave the two alone. After offering his prayer, he placed them in his lap and said, 'Whoever loves me should love these two.'" (Reported by Ibn Khuzaimah and Baihaqi)

"The Messenger of Allah (saws) was praying and he was carrying Umama the daughter of Zainab, the daughter of the Messenger of Allah, and she was the daughter of 'As ibn Rabi'a ibn Abdu-Shams. When he prostrated, he put her down, and when he stood, he carried her (on his neck)." (Reported by Bukhari and Muslim)

"The Prophet (saws) said: 'When I stand for prayer, I intend to prolong it, but on hearing the cries of a child, I cut it short, as I dislike to trouble the child's mother.'" (Reported by Bukhari)

Encouraging Children To Pray

Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-Asr, narrated that the Apostle of Allah (saw) said, "Command your children to make salah when they become seven years old, and spank them for it (salah) when they become ten years old, and arrange their beds (to sleep) separately." (Abu Dawud)

  • Informal teaching should start when child starts to show interest usually occurs around the age of two.

  • Let them pretend to make salah.

  • Invite them to pray along side and join the family jemaah prayer.

  • The next step is to learn al-Fatihah which should begin around the age of three or four. Break down the instructions by using reasonable number of verses or small segments.

  • The practice session should only last between 5 to 15 minutes. At this age consistency is more important than length of practice.

  • Important to remember that not all children are ready at the same time and that not everyday will the child be ready to learn new materials.

  • Educational products can assist parents in achieving success with their children because children generally learn in different ways therefore introduction of material through different format (video, coloring book, going to the masjid) will help ease and reinforce the learning process.

  • One of the most important thing that a parent should do is to praise the child for each accomplished task and encouragement to achieve more success.

Being Fair and Just with Our Children

The Messenger of Allah (saws), also said: "Treat your child equally, treat your child equally, treat your child equally." (Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Ibn Hibban)

Al-Nu'man ibn Bashir said: "My father conferred upon me a slave as a gift. He took me to Allah Messenger (saws), to get a witness. The Messenger of Allah said, 'Have you given a gift to every son of yours such as you have awarded Al-Nu'man?' He my father said, 'No.' The Messenger of Allah said, 'Be mindful of your obligation to Allah and do justice in respect of your children.' My father came back and revoked his gift." (Agreed upon)

Usama bin Zaid (ra) narrated: Allah Messenger (saws) used to put me on (one of) his thighs and Hasan bin Ali on his other thigh, and then embraced us and said: "O Allah! Please be Merciful to them, as I am merciful to them." (Bukhari)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Spending Time With Children

The home of today has become very much like a hotel. Strangers stumble in and out at odd hours, each one doing his own little thing. "The family" has now almost become just a fond memory. "The family" having meals together is a rare occasion. Just sitting together and chatting is even more rare.

Part of the blame can be apportioned to the fast, demanding pace of life in the modern and
"advanced" world we are living in. The other part can be attributed to the lack of will and the apathy on the part of members of the family to get together more often. Every one seems quite happy with leading his/her "own life".

Parents have a responsibility to bind the family. Upbringing plays an important part on how close off-spring will be with their parents and among themselves in later life. If they have grown up comfortably in a cold, detached home environment, the "hotel-type" home, they can hardly be expected to take much interest in family affairs later on.

Parents need to spend time with their children daily - Quality Time. Quality time means a time of day or night when neither of them or their children are tired or occupied with other things. Try to fix a time daily so that a regular pattern can be set. Sit down as a family. Talk. Discuss. Ask children about school. How did the day go. What did they learn. What was exciting, etc. Tell them about your own work, your day. Children are good talkers. They get excited. They need to express themselves; their feelings and emotions. Give them this opportunity to talk. They need it. You will be surprised how much you do not know about your child's life.

Parents should never regard this daily get-together as a small or unimportant part of their lives. It is vital. This togetherness will convince your children that you are interested in them. This will motivate and encourage them to perform better in all what they do.

This daily get-together will also lead to the bonding of the family, which is so important for the family and the children, especially. Today the family unit is slowly disintegrating all over the world. What is more sad is that it is even happening to Muslim homes and families.

A strongly-bonded family will produce a stable and strong child. Otherwise the child will suffer psychological disorders that become progressively worse. Such a child eventually becomes a lost cause; a liability to his/her family and to society at large. The implications for society in a neglected child are enormous. This is very sad and unfortunate for the neglected child. It is also dangerous for the future of the child. Such a child will easily be influenced by outsiders and alien influences, as s/he will not find fulfilment in the home. Such a child could end-up becoming a drug-addict or even a criminal. Parents may be in for a rude shock and could possibly realise the harm only after it is too late to really reverse the damage. May Allah save our children from such a day.

A good way to get going with the family-evening is to assist children with their school work. Get them to bring their school bag and books along. Look at their work, even if you do not understand much! Ask them a few questions about the work they have learnt; from their books. Help them along with their Islamic Studies as well. Listen keenly to their Qur^Òan recitation lesson. Ensure they have learnt all Islamic Studies lessons for the next day. Get them to complete other school work.

Finally, talk to them for a few minutes about good manners, good behaviour, the importance of discipline and hard work. Narrate to them some interesting anecdote from which they could learn a lesson or moral. If possible read to them for a few minutes from a good Islamic book or Kitaab. All of this will go a very long way to developing your child into a highly successful adult.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Playing With Children

How many times do we see parents who do not enjoy the compay of children, they are far too serious.. We know the accounts of Prophet Muhammad playing with children, we know how Prophet Muhammad would give piggy-back rides to kids, on one occassion he even gave a ride from outside the city limits to the center of the city to children on his shoulders, arms and around him, maybe even clinging to his leg - and Allah knows best.

Gabalah Ibn Saheem related that he entered the company of Muawiya Ibn Abu Sufian during his rule. He had a rope around his neck which was drawn by a child (i.e. similar to a cowboy playing with a lasoo). Gabbalah exclaimed 'You do that! Prince of the Fidels!?!'. His statement was supposed to be a repreimand i.e.he was criticising the Caliph for playing with the kid. To this, Muawiya said to him, 'Bequiet fool! I have heard Allah's Messenger saying, "Whoso has got a child, should behave with him as if he were a child too"'.
[Ref: Daleel al-Saliheen, p. 77]

And so we see that the Muslim who uderstand his faith realises that playing and entertaining a child is just as important as ruling a nation, or their household. Life is about balance, far too often we hear people saying 'be Islamic' - what the criticiser fails to realise is that playing with children they ARE 'being Islamic'. We should not allow the character and beauty of Islam be removed from it, otherwise we will simply be left with a series of mechanical actions.
May Allah have mercy and teach us all compassion and good character, ameen.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Building a Child's Self Esteem

"O ye people! Worship your guardian Lord, Who created you and those before you that ye may become righteous." Quran 2:21

Family Life Question: "Children frequently express feelings of not being liked by other children and not being able to do things before making an attempt. What are some ways to encourage self-confidence in children?"

Dear Parents:
Children who are morally and spiritually conscience develop a sense of their own self-worth. Helping our children develop healthy self-esteem is one of the most important things that parents can do for them; it is the foundation of their faith and commitment to Allah. Children need to be assured that they are a special gift from Allah and they are to dedicate their talents and resources to Thy service--this gives them value, purpose and direction for life. Through every phase of a child's development, they need provisions for moral and spiritual enrichment that encourages them to truly reverence Allah and to thus value the beauty in themselves.

"We have indeed created man in the best of molds." (Quran 95:4) There is no fault in Allah's creation; to man, Allah gave the purest and best nature. Our duty is to preserve, and nurture the distinctive character that Allah has created.

Healthy feelings about oneself or high self-esteem is best started in the home, and this needs to be cultivated in our children from birth. Thankfulness for who Allah has made us to be is based primarily on how our parents or guardians view us. Children mirror others' perception of them; they measure themselves by the standards set by those shaping their lives. A child needs our unconditional love. While we may show disapproval of wrong actions, the child still needs to feel cherished. We are guided: "...truly no one despairs of Allah's soothing Mercy, except those who have no faith." (Quran 12:87) Our unconditional compassion for our children will promote and encourage their faith in Allah and instill the thinking that "I am lovable, I am confident."

Persons with healthy self-esteem are more capable of making decisions; they exhibit thankfulness for their accomplishments, are willing to take responsibility, and are better able to cope with stressful situations. They meet and feel enthusiastic about challenges. Often a student with a high IQ and low self-esteem will do poorly in school, while a child with average ability and high self-esteem will excel. The thinking that is cultivated in a person in the early years affects his entire life.

The National PTA along with the March of Dimes has developed a program called "Parenting: The Underdeveloped Skill" to help parents learn to better communicate with their children and to nurture their youngster's self-esteem. Some steps they outline include: "

1. Showing kids how to communicate their feelings, openly and honestly, is a good place for parents to start. Children need to know that even anger and fear are to be appropriately expressed rather than bottled up. Because children learn by example, parents must let their feelings be known.

2. Listening--truly listening to children is a second key to developing good self-esteem. Having parents listen not only enhances children's good feeling about themselves, it also teaches them...(to be caring).

3. Teaching how to get along with others through negotiation and compromise is important.

4. Establishing fair, consistent discipline is one of the other building blocks of good self-esteem.

5. Giving children responsibilities--tasks that are meaningful and 'do-able' and that they can be accountable for also builds self-esteem.

6. Permitting children to make decisions (even an occasional wrong one) helps them learn good judgment.

7. Keeping a sense of humor is important. It can work wonders and helps children keep perspective on what is important.

8. Treating children lovingly, with both respect and courtesy, helps children learn that they are beautiful and worthwhile people. Parents, treat them the way you yourself want to be treated." The Parenting: The Underdeveloped Skill kit is available through the Chicago office of the National PTA.

When we build a warm and friendly relationship with our children, we establish the best opportunity for imparting strong moral and spiritual values to them--the key to high self-esteem.

Are You Raising A Muslim Child?

By Sahar Kassaimah

Raising a Muslim child is a great responsibility that requires a lot of time, effort, and du'aa. It also requires us to understand the vast differences between raising a good child and raising a good Muslim child who understands and practices Islam.

It is very important to note this difference from the first moment of our child's life, or even before his birth. This knowledge will help us obtain a clear vision about our goals and, subsequently, about the best ways to achieve them.

Some parents raise their children to be polite and respectful, without really connecting these virtues to the teachings of Islam. They teach their children how to respect grown-ups, because "it is the polite thing to do"; to be kind to younger children because "polite kids are not to be mean to little children"; and not to lie because it is "not good to lie"; and so on…

Though there is no doubt that it is virtuous to raise a polite child, is that all that we want? Is that our only goal?

By comparing one family who chooses to raise a good child to another family whose goal is to raise a good Muslim child, we will notice vast differences between the two.

If a parent's goal is to raise a Muslim child, he/she should start thinking about this child even before its birth by choosing a Muslim partner who practices the religion and who knows how to encourage children to be good Muslims.

In this case, the father and the mother should work together, from the very beginning, to achieve their goal. They will then be able to expose their child to its religion by following the Sunnah and the advice of the Prophet (SAW).

They will also connect good manners to Islamic teachings in a simple that implants the love and the fear of Allah into the child's heart. They will tell Islamic stories that help teach the child how to choose his/her examples and models. They will also be aware of setting good examples so that their child can have honorable role models.

Simultaneously, they will teach their children about "halal" and "haram" (permissible and forbidden) and "Janah" and "Nar" (Paradise and Hell). By that time, the child will grow up as a good Muslim who understands his/her religion. He will be ready to pray because he has seen his family praying and may have even stood with them in prayers at an early stage. They will not need to exert much effort in encouraging him to fast because they would have exposed him to fasting and Ramadan at a young age.

When this child grows up, it will be clear to him that Allah (SWT) has created us to worship Him and that this life is not an eternal home, but a place where we spend a period of time and are tested by Allah (SWT). Therefore, the child might be more prepared to be patient during painful moments and be more thankful in moments of happiness because his parents taught him that "iman" (faith) is divided between patience and gratitude and that life itself is divided between grants and tests.

But, does that mean that the Muslim family who practices Islam does not require a lot of time and effort when trying to raise a good Muslim child? Of course not.

Although it would be much easier for a family its members practice Islam and present good examples for the child, the family still needs to spend a lot of time and effort in order to achieve these goals.

Unfortunately, children cannot simply drink a cup of some miracle tonic and become good Muslims or learn about Islam. They need someone to teach them, talk with them, punish them, and reward them.

Therefore, it is our role, as parents, to connect our children to Islam from their early years of life. We cannot afford to wait until our children grow up to teach them how to love or fear Allah. We cannot wait and ask the imam in the masjid (mosque) or the teacher in the Islamic school to help our teenage son or daughter learn how to pray, or how to fast.

I remember seeing a father bringing his 15-year-old son to the Islamic school so that the teacher there could teach him about his religion. When asked whether he taught the son about Islam before, the father replied, "Never, but I think it is time for him now to start learning!"

He never taught him how to pray, how to fast, or how to read Qur'an. In fact, he had never taught him anything about Islam. He never took him to the masjid because he himself never went to there. And now he wanted the teacher to teach his son about his religion? Isn't it too late to start teaching Islam at such a mature age? How can that teacher show this teenager all that he has missed during the last fifteen years of his life?

The problem is that this is not an isolated case. Many schools and masjid complain about this problem. How can a teacher who spends about two hours a week with a child teach him how to be a proper Muslim? Where were the parents earlier?

Allah (SWT) has created human beings and blessed them with the longest childhood among His creations. We have a lot to learn about life, creation, and our Creator and what we learn requires a lot of time to learn, understand, and implement. Teaching and conditioning from childhood is our best bet at retaining all of the vital information provided to us by Allah. So, childhood remains the most critical time by which to set up an Islamic foundation.

However, Allah (SWT) also gave us the potential to change ourselves. He has granted opportunities and second chances to those whose parents did not raise them to be good Muslims; through His mercy and forgiveness, He has given us all the chance to start again. Though it is not easy to accomplish, with sincerity, azeema (back bone), and mothabarah
(persistence), all children can become good Muslims.