How do Muslim parents set the foundation to grow and raise little Muslims?
This post was inspired by Muslimah Blogger's monthly prompt for August which is about 'grow'. I thought I'd write about raising or growing our children to be believers. But then a question in the comments section from my previous post gave me the direction in which to focus on which is, "At what age do you suggest that we introduce our children to the concept of Allah? And in how much details?" (Thank you Mama Leo).
The Wonder of Allah
Young children have an inbuilt sense of wonder for the world around them. They are curious and want to explore and discover about this world that they live in. It is this sense of wonder that you need to nurture and grow.
Allah tells us in the Qur'an in many places to look and wonder at His creations and think and ponder over them. Have they not looked at the heaven above them, how We have made it and adorned it, and there are no rifts in it? (Qur'an Qaaf 50,6)
Look then at the effects (results) of Allah's Mercy: how He revives the earth after its death. Verily, that (Allah) (Who revived the earth after its death) shall indeed raise the dead (on the Day of Resurrection), and He is Able to do all things. (Qur'an 30:50)
Do they not look at the camels, how they are created? And at the heaven, how it is raised? And at the mountains, how they are rooted (and fixed firm)? And at the earth, how it is outspread? (Qur'an 88:17-20)
Encourage your child to look at the world around them and be amazed by Allah's Greatness. Guide your child in this by saying, "Look at this bug! See the perfect wings and legs? MashaAllah! Look at the way it crawls and flies. Allah created this bug."
Whenever you look at any of Allah's creation, always remind your child that Allah is its Creator. Don't forget to focus on your child as well, that Allah created him also. When you're changing your child, tell him to look at his toes and how perfect they are. Remind him that Allah made those toes, and those eyes and fingers and everything else.
This is what I teach my prekinders as part of their Islamic studies. At first I would always tell them that Allah made this and Allah made that but later on I would ask them, "Who made that?" and they would know to answer, "Allah!" I also find every opportunity to instill this into them so that whenever I read a book about animals or nature I would always ask them as to Who made it?
I used to babysat my nephews and nieces when they were little and we would always go outside and look at nature. I also read books and do the things that I've written above. One day my sister told the story of how her four year old son was in the backyard laying on the grass and looking up at the clouds and saying, "MashaAllah, Allah made those clouds," and how whenever he passed a flower he would smell it and say, "MashaAllah, Allah made this flower" much to his father's surprise. Alhamdulillah, this is the place from which you want your child to see the world.
The Love for Allah
When your child is young, you'd want to also instill in him the love for Allah. Don't teach the fear of Allah until you've taught the love for Allah. When he's young, the love for Allah should be your main focus.
You teach this love by focusing on how Allah loves us and provides for us. Always point out to your child that Allah loves us as He has given us a family, a roof over our heads, warm beds, good food, clean water, two hands - the list is endless for the blessings that we should be thankful for. Should we not love the One who provides for us?
Just like you've taught your child that Allah is the Creator, teach your child that Allah is the Provider. Say, "Allah loves you because He gave you two eyes to see...Allah loves you. He gave you this food" and so on. Also by providing scripts for your child such as, "Allah loves me when I share. Allah loves me to be helpful. Allah loves me to be kind." This will help to guide your child's behaviour.
It's Never Too Early
How early should you start teaching your child about Allah? As early as possible, even when he is a baby. He may not yet understand you but through the practice of talking to your baby he will pick up language. The more you talk to your child, even when it's a one way conversation, the earlier he will develop an understanding of language and its usage, and the more likely that he'll talk early.
Not only will he pick up language early but he'll also pick up the concept of Allah the Creator and Provider early as well. He will gradually understand you and because it's so ingrained into his psyche he will grow up to see that Allah is the Creator of everything and that Allah is our Provider, inshaAllah. These are the foundations from which to grow your little Muslim.