“It doesn’t matter if we are living in the East or West, we can never make our kids good Muslims and human beings if we are not following Deen ourselves”.
– Shaikh Abdul Qadeer Awan
Religious upbringing of children can be challenging especially in countries where religious and cultural diversity exists. Kids can experience an identity crisis if parents do not educate their children about religion and culture. Therefore, it becomes imperative to start teaching kids from an early age and gradually shape their character according to the teachings of Islam.
Living aboard, I feel a lot of pressure as the sole responsibility of teaching religion to my son relies on my shoulders. Abdullah is around 4 yo now and with him, I began at a very early stage. Here are a few things that I have tried with Abdullah and they seem to work quite well Alhumdulillah.
- Prioritize Deen in your daily life. Adopt habits and manners yourself first that you want to instill in your children. Remember that a parent is the first role-model of every child. So be someone you want your kid to be!
- Start by teaching little things. When kids practice and adopt Sunnahs of drinking, eating, changing clothes etc, it will automatically bring them closer to Prophet Muhammad PBUH and develop a feeling of love towards him.
- Incorporate Duas and Islamic manners during role-play. For example, when Abdullah and I are playing and he wants to feed a character, I ask Abdullah which dua he should say before eating. This way, he takes a lot of interest, enjoys and learns at the same time.
- Use screen time for good and educational religious content. At times, it gets difficult to reduce screen time to zero, So, instead of useless stuff, try content that can have a positive effect on their young minds. One for kids by Zaky is an Australian Islamic channel and is available on YouTube. The content is authentic and kids not only learn about Islam but also get general knowledge and improve English language skills.
- Recite Duas/surahs etc loudly and regularly even when your kids are too little to understand. Allah Kareem has blessed kids with amazing memories and between the ages of 1-5, they tend to learn very fast.
- Make conscious effort to plan fun activities/worksheets etc to teach basic concepts. Parents know what interests their children so plan Islamic activities around those interests.
- Use books with illustrations to grab their attention. Many e-books are available that can be printed and used. Ummi and Kids is a good website for such content and is free. Another source for free a printable is Kamil Ahmad.
- Make sure to add at least one Islamic story (Prophets/Sahaba etc) at bedtime. We normally think that kids are too young to understand certain things but when told repeatedly and in a way that is age-appropriate, they do remember. If you can find a story book then that’s the best option but here in Germany, Islamic books aren’t easily available, So I search Islamic stories on Youtube and show them to Abdullah once or twice. Then I discuss with him and after that, I tell him that story myself. This way, it’s easier for him to visualize and remember.
- Create a positive and loving image of Allah Kareem from the very beginning. When your child is old enough to understand the concept of Allah, try to create a feeling of love towards Allah (use examples from daily life that your kid can relate to. Tell kids that Allah Kareem loves us and grants us even more when we follow Him and His Prophet SAW)
- Plan and celebrate every religious event. Kids notice when parents give importance to something so grab every occasion as a teaching opportunity.
- Reward kids when they remember and practice an Islamic value. It will encourage and motivate them to do better.
- While giving religious education to kids is important, it is equally important to teach them about tolerance of other religions and faiths especially for those living in a multicultural society.
- Lastly, Do your best and make Dua to Allah Kareem to keep our kids and us on the path of righteousness and away from all fitnas. Ameen!