By Shamim F
After instilling the Foundations of Emaan in your child it’s now time to put this into action by moving to the next phase of helping your child to fulfil the obligatory actions of worship. These actions of worship nourish and sustain Emaan and are an outer manifestation of it.
As Allah (SWT) said in Surah TaHa, 20:132:
“And enjoin al-salaat on your family, and be patient in offering them (i.e. the salaat) …”
When should you start teaching your children Salaat?
As our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught us that the best time for children to start learning about Salaat is at the age of seven so by the age of ten they have established it in their lives.
The benefit is that children have a good understanding of what they are doing at this age. Salaat should become something they like to do because of their belief in Allah and desire to please Him.
How should teach them?
Stages of teaching Salaat:
- Teach them Salaat properly at the age of 7.
- Discipline them at the age of 10.
- Gradual training to attend congregational prayer (Jumu’ah) with you.
- Gradual introduction to Qiyaam al-Layl.
- Training your children to do Salaat al-Istikharah.
- Accompanying your children for Salaat al-Eid.
Be a role model for your children and teach by example. This means establishing prayer within the home at its required time, and the family praying in congregation whenever possible. The family should encourage and remind one another regarding Salaat. Attach your children’s hearts to the Masjid by educating them about the features and benefits. Social gatherings provide an opportunity for children to interact with other muslim children and develop the bonds of community. You can also use motivational aids such as colouring in the ‘prayer tree’ to encourage children (see attached).
What about other acts of worship?
Fasting is a physical and spiritual act of worship that teaches many things including taqwa, patience, self-discipline, empathy for those less fortunate than us. Get children involved in Ramadhan when they are ready.
Hajj is from the greatest acts of worship and reinforces a real sense of community of faith. As per Hadith from Muslim children can perform Hajj and parents will get the reward.
As Allah (SWT) said in Surat al-Tawbah, 9:103:
“Take sadaqah (alms) from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it, and invoke Allah for them. Verily! Your invocations are a source of security for them, and Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.”
Therefore, you should give sadaqah on behalf of your children as a means of protection and security for them.
In summary, we should take a gradual approach in teaching children the principles of the religion. This method will allow you to take the time needed to change hearts and minds through education rather than simply imposing rules and laws. This will also ensure that children accept the customs of Islam by their own choice. Practical examples of application of this gradual approach may include wearing the hijab, learning how to pray correctly and fasting during Ramadhan.
Further reading recommended: Nurturing Eeman in Children by Dr. Aisha Hamdan