Raising children with Faith

islamic parenting Mar 05, 2022

Article contributed by Umm Yusra

In this day, we are sadly seeing the decline of Islamic knowledge especially in our youth. At the same time, Islamic literature and advice is easily accessible, there are a multitude of spiritually motivating speakers and so many websites to assist us. So, what is the issue exactly?

I was sitting with a friend’s daughter and it was raining. Trying to bring some positivity into our conversation, I mentioned that rain is actually a blessing and there’s a duaa to pray in extreme rain. She was shocked in the way that only a seven year old can be when their world has been shaken with a fact. ‘No! Rain is when Shaitaan pees on your head for not wearing a hijab.’ I was initially amused but was quick to correct her with the fact that punishment is not dished by Shaitaan and that rain definitely is not urination from the aforementioned! However, once the moment passed, I was able to process that my young daughter who is a year younger, saw rain as a blessing and that she understood the importance of my hijab and the expectation that she also adopts a modest outlook from when she turns of age. She has also been raised this way in my family but in sending her to madrassa I made sure the one’s teaching my daughter were dressed appropriately. 

Then I took a look at my friend’s family life. The parents were not Islamically inclined and whilst they were quick to use the Islam card, they imparted nothing of knowledge or even explained the importance of Allah SWT to their children. Without judgement, their household played Punjabi tracks daily, the women were not modest and salaah and worship were reserved for Friday only. There was little to no adopting Sunnah’s or even the obligatory Fards.


I myself came into the folds of practising Islam when I turned twenty seven. And looking at my own family life, Islam had not been a part of it. Looking back to growing up, we fasted together, observed the advisory of not being out between Asr and Maghrib times and keeping our heads covered but it was so casual. I do not remember loving Allah SWT as a child. I do not remember being ‘introduced’ to Islam. I do remember going to a Madrassa where the teacher hated me on sight and I faced abuse from seven until I was twelve. I had a fear then of my religion and observed it out of fear. When it came to reading, I could do so flawlessly, but I was reading just Urdu. There was no Arabic, Tajweed or rules. So, my flawless Urdu pronunciation earnt me much embarrassment when I learnt that my children prayed with Tajweed. I only learnt Tajweed when I hit my thirties. I remember thinking I can’t live life this blinkered; there is so much more to learn than fear of Allah SWT. This is the wrong way.

I took the step of wearing my hijab and it did take some getting used to. I then started reading the Quran, painfully slow, whilst learning the Tajweed rules. Now at 37 I am finally getting somewhere. I envy my eight year old, who prays beautifully with the correct pronunciation. I also, with the help of numerous books, try to learn everything I can. But the main thing is, I mention Allah SWT to my children daily. In the various daily Duaas and Aadhkaars, including researching their mosque before allowing them to attend and keeping a close eye on the teachers, I make sure that my children do not grow up in fear, but rather in love and pride of their Islamic beliefs. I found the biggest gap in me was, sadly, my parents. They did not practise but definitely preached. And they did the best they could, but did not check the various teachers we were surrounded by. However, they had a strong moral standing about right and wrong and so whenever I asked why I couldn’t do or wear something, the answer was ‘it is prohibited.’ Now when my own children ask why they need to refrain from certain acts and foods, I sit them down and explain Allah SWT loves us and has made permissible what is good and nourishing for us. 

My situation is not unique, but I am grateful I received guidance from various people. Always an avid reader, I ditched my novels for Islamic literature. The thirst for knowledge is there, but it is nothing without intention. Every week, I remind myself why I’m learning. I am trying to leave a legacy behind for my children.

Recently, my Ustaad sent me a link about How to introduce Allah to my kids? And whilst it’s very much for early years, it sets the precedent for the later years. If the roots of Islam are strong from a young age, the wind of the nafs will Insha’Allah only ruffle the leaves not pull out the tree.

So, here’s what I have learnt from the various life lessons of parenting and also my own childhood:

~ first and foremost, practise what you preach. Learn and implement the basics. Start with making your child understand that Allah SWT has created EVERYTHING; we did not start with the Big Bang and we were not created from void. Always let them know to respect their teachers at their academic school but we have our own beliefs.

~ Instil love by reading various books about Allah SWT and our Prophet first. An excellent read is 365 Days with The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) by Nurdan Damla. It is engaging and depicts the beautiful traits of our Prophet. We read this as a family, I would read to the children and we’d read page by page in a circle.

~ Explain the five pillars but simply. Remind them of the 5 daily prayers by praying yourself. Remind them of fasting by fasting the obligatory and explain why you’re doing things. Explain the Shahadah by saying it every day. This is reaffirming your belief and explain to your children the importance of declaring one’s faith. Watch and read about Hajj and explain charity by setting up a Zakat box and put money in it every pay day. Children copy and paste so do things wholly and with heart and they will by Allah’s will adopt.

~ Learn the 99 Names of Allah SWT. Learn one every week or a few days and discuss the relevance of each name by bringing it to a duaa. My daughter and I pray together and when we make duaa I will say ‘Oh Allah you are Al Musawir, The Shaper of Beauty, so shape beautiful lives in this world and the hereafter for my daughter.’ Watch how your children engage in this and quickly learn the names and attributes.

~ At every opportunity, speak kindly and point out Allah SWT’s blessings. My child lost her pass for one of her weekend classes and initially I let her know how stressed it made me as we missed the class. But then, I took her with me to my weekly shop and I said, ‘Allah SWT knew I missed you and so His blessing to us today along with the sun is that we got to spend time together.’ Our day went from rushed to calm and happy within seconds. I then explained I should have not got annoyed but rather recited the duaa for loss. And we both recited it together and then hugged each other. She told me she was sorry and I apologised too and it really was a blessing. There are a multitude of blessings but we are so rushed that we do not see them.

~ Look after your wellbeing by feeding your mind, soul and body. Eat well, and point out the halal, haram and Sunnah foods. Read Islamic literature around your children. I recently joined a Quran Recital Group and when the women were praying, my daughter abandoned her gadget and sat watching me read along with the reciters. She then said, ‘when I grow up I want to pray like this Ustaada.’ Insha’Allah!

~ Help them love Allah by reminding them that He loves them no matter what.  Make them understand the concept of Jannah and that it’s ok if they lose their way as long as they always find their way back to Allah SWT. When I got annoyed at my daughter for losing her pass, I apologised and then said I forgot to recite the duaa for loss. This shows that even in our mistakes, we remember that bigger than our error is His love and His mercy. Keep saying ‘Allah loves you!’ and ‘Alhamdullilah’ at every blessing and trial. Recently, we had a burglary around the corner from our street. My son prior to that would open the door quite casually to just anyone without checking who was at the door. Post the burglary, he has been very stressed and anxious on leaving the house. I said to him, ‘Look how much Allah loves you. He sent a calamity to teach you the importance of your safety. Alhamdullilah.’

~ Keep an eye on their Islamic studies to ensure that you are up to date with your knowledge and their books. I did most of my learning from their Qamar books and so when it came to revision for exams, I could answer their questions and teach them what they needed to know.

~ Introduce the beauty of Islam not just the parts that discipline.  We know as adults why something is not permissible, but children don’t. So, show them the blessings more than the discipline side of it. We as a family engage in a lot of nature walks and documentaries and I always say, ‘Subhan Allah, look at the multitude of Allah’s creation. He truly has made each animal so perfectly.’

~ Expect the question; ‘If Allah loves me why did this happen to me,’ or ‘if Allah loves me why am I scared?’ Recently, my daughter developed a phobia of spiders and one was in the bathroom. She wanted it dead. I gently (albeit shakily as the thing was pretty big) removed it with a cup and paper. But before I got rid of it, I told her that killing a spider or any living thing was not allowed. I explained that all living creatures deserve a place on this Earth and if anything, it’s their land and we have built a house on their habitat so instead of killing, we can rescue it and send it to it’s home outside. I also told her that Allah SWT loves you and sent this spider down so you learn about the beauty of His creation, even when you’re feeling scared. She now refers to pests as mini beasts and asks me to remove them should she see one. There is no mention of killing or being scared. Recently she asked me if it was normal getting anxious when in a group. She said her cheeks feel hot and her tummy aches and she wants to hide. I explained that if Allah SWT put us in situations where we were always comfortable then we would not grow and learn how to accept different people/situations or conquer our fears. I said He knows we worry and when you’re younger you can overcome this so you’re ready for bigger hurdles when you grow up. She has since overcome her anxiety of speaking in groups and accepted it as a test for bigger tests. This helps build resilience, something we are seeing less and less of in today’s young community.

~ Pray the adhaan or have it recorded and played 5 x a day.  Teach them to stop what they’re doing and pay heed to the call for prayer mindfully. Then sit and pray salaah. This teaches them that above all else, salaah comes first. And if you miss it, then make it up as soon as possible. 

~ Use the best example Allah SWT has sent down to us; our Beloved Prophet (PBUH). As mentioned before, for young ones, the book 365 Days with the Prophet is an excellent read. For older ones, there are a fair few but an accurate depiction is Stars in the Prophet’s Orbit, Asma Tabaa. You can get the English translation and it is so informative about the companions of the Prophet.

~ Print out the duaas and stick them around your house and make a point of praying them. We have the duaa for drinking water by the sink, the duaa for entering/leaving the bathroom outside the bathroom wall, and so the children know this is handy and it teaches them to remember Allah SWT in most of their actions.

~ Explain to them each Islamic month, the importance of those days, not just Eid and Ramadhan, but the months like Rajab, Shaban, Muharram. 

~ Use teachings from the revivers of Islam. I attended a course on Imam al Ghazali and impart as much as I can to my children. 

~ Teach them the importance of Islamic Manners. Respect to parents, elders, respect to neighbours and show, don’t just tell, through your actions. If you want more Islamically minded children in the house, then even you need to be an example.

~ Namely, be kind in your approach.  If your children have not grown up with Islam, then the change will be an adjustment. But arm yourself with knowledge because they will have questions and be consistent in your actions so the change will be welcomed and gradual.

The list could go on but these are the basics. As your children grow older, you can still keep learning consistently. One thing I regret is not going back to mosque to learn and leaving at twelve. My boy is a teen and actually enjoys going to mosque. My girl will miss school if unwell but insists I make online studying arrangements for Madrassa. These are the marks of a good Islamic education setting and also that despite what I grew up with, I am, by Allah’s will, going the right way for my children.

May Allah SWT make our journey with our precious offspring easy in these testing times and may we be guided in His path, and our Ammaanah also be guided. Ameen.

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