I just LOVE this post (check out the image!) – it reminds us what is important, and that most people actually admire and respect us for praying!
Here’s another example that was shared on facebook:
“Today, I almost missed my prayer. Not knowing what to do or where to go, I found a small space outside King’s Cross Station to pray. As soon as I finished, someone from security (or police, I couldn’t quite tell) approached me immediately. Amidst everything that I’ve seen in the media, my heart sunk. I thought to myself: “Well, here goes.”
The officer approached me pretty quickly. To my surprise, he said:
“Why don’t you come and pray inside? There’s a staff prayer room.”
I was taken aback. Really. I fit every stereotype imaginable. Yet, here I was stereotyping others. The officer was a white man.
It’s so important to remember that on every end of the spectrum, there are pretty crazy people. But for the most part, people are incredibly respectful.”
By Ismail Jeilani
I would like to finish off this series with this final story on someone’s use of the power of DUA to help their children become of those who pray!
Ultimately, it is HIM we are praying to and to HIM we want our children to develop a connection to, and so clarifying that as our intention and using HIS duas and HIS help to do it is really the ultimate way!
May He grant us tawfeeq in guiding our children to love praying, and to love Him, Inshallah!!
Check out the BEAUTIFUL story at this link: http://asqfish.wordpress.com/2010/07/20/dua-for-the-gift-of-salah-for-your-children/
There are lots of crafts ideas that we can do with our children about salaat – make a tasbih, make a prayer rug, paper plate activities to show the change of kibla, etc.
How about this one also? Make prayer mat magnets!: http://ummabdulbasir.wordpress.com/tag/salat-craft/
Here is what one mum did as a craft to help reinforce the concept of salaah times:
- I loved this game idea shared by Islam from the Start!”We laid out the musalas (one for each child) around the room. Then we …asked them to run around the room, this symbolised our daily life and how we are always rushing around from one activity to another. We then played the Adhan, which symbolised Allah’s call to us. We talked about how Allah calls us to good deeds like prayer, being kind to others, truthfulness etc. The children had to run to a musala as soon as they heard Allah’s call. After each round we removed one musala to find the winner! We then talked about how Allah is the fastest at responding to our prayer.”
- Play Simon says – Simon says go in ruku, Simon says stand in qiyam… Why not sub in Bilal for Simon?!
- There is a great book and corresponding game called ‘Tweet, Tweet, It’s Fun to Pray’.
For the toddler age group, one suggestion is to printout the pictures of the birds (it’s a free printable that you get when you get the book) and stick it on different walls of the house for a treasure hunt after reading the book.
Also check out the related game cards here:
- An awesome card game designed by Kids n Islam (and available for purchase through Buzz Ideazz!) is ‘My Salaat Fun Cards’.
The cards are a great way to help children understand the special conversation taking place between ourselves and Allah (swt) in Salaat.
There are two games that can be played – Memory Match and Salaat Snap – both of which encourage familiarisation of the Arabic and English translations of the dhikr in Salaat.
Check it out here:
The cards can also be used as a visual aid for constant reference and reinforcement – here is what one mum did:
- On the use of technology, here’s what one mum shared:
“Texting is replacing talking among teens. Teens spend nearly an equal amount of time talking as they do texting each month. The feature is so important to them that if texting were no longer an option 47% of teens say their social life would end or be worsened.
They also say texting has advantages over talking because it offers more options, including multitasking, speed, the option to avoid verbal communication, and because it is fun – in that order, according to the study.
So text your teen when it’s time to pray. Encourage them to set up reminders on their cell phone to offer their prayer or download an app for this purpose. This will make it more fun and help weave prayer into their lives in a practical way.”
- In our app review some time ago, I review an app called Salah Tracker for Kids. I have posted the review below to read in more detail, but in short – it is a good SHORT TERM incentive to get our kids to pray!
- If your children (or indeed yourselves!) are finding it hard to get up for Fajr, then here is an app for you! Tried and tested on myself, it really really works!
- And finally, check this out:
I recently saw a status that got me thinking about how we phrase things and what that implies to our children. It goes:
‘Don’t send your children to bed by “you have school tomorrow” and engage their hearts with dunya, send them to bed by “let’s pray fajr on time” and engage their hearts with akhirat.’
How beautiful is that?
Sometimes, we may say things that unwittingly makes Salaat into a chore rather than a delight. Instead of: “Let’s finish praying so that we can … (read/play/etc)”, maybe we can say “Let’s go pray so we can thank Allah for everything He has given us today…”
Any other ideas of things we say and what we could say instead?
The flip side of the coin to inviting them with love, is pushing them away from Salaat.
I cringe whenever i remember how i was with my younger sisters on one of the first salaats they prayed after they became baaligh. I had assured mum that as big sister, i could handle it. But to put it simply, i was the Salaat Police – and it was NOT pretty. I think i must have stopped them at least 10 times saying they had not recited ‘that’ with good makhraj, or not done ‘this’ action correctly. In short, however well-meaning, i’m sure i put them off big time – thank God my mum stepped in again when she did!
With all the previous suggestions such as jamaat namaaz, duas after Salaat, etc, it is important to remember NOT to force or become overbearing. Marhum Ayatullah Behjat, one of the greatest spiritual masters of our time, used to say that his father told him to only carry out the wajib actions of prayer as a child and young adult, but despite that he was able to attain extremely high levels of spirituality in his prayers.
Indeed, even in Qom, the jamaat prayers are done at quite a fast pace…this is simply to cater for everyone and not to put them off coming to pray at the mosque!
When we call our children to come pray with us, how do we do it? Do we call out to them? And if they don’t come the first time, shout?
What about Fajr? Do we switch on all the lights? Do we threaten to pour water on them?! Or guilt them about the fact that if it becomes Kazaa it’s on their heads?
The other day, I was talking to someone who said that once, a group of people were sharing their best memories of their parents. One girl shared how her best memory was of her dad, waking her up for Fajr…he used to massage her arms and hands to wake her up – how beautiful is that?! And how awesome that that is one of her favourite memories? 🙂
Sometimes, we have a sincere but misguided emphasis on doing too much too young with children. Someone once told me how she was told to make their daughter pray at the age of 3; at first the daughter would put on her little chaadar, and sit next to or follow along with her mum, but then she began to object and dislike it. The mum, because of what she had been told and also peer pressure, began to get frustrated. Luckily, she realised it was heading down a slippery slope and relaxed about it all.
Imam Sadiq (as) says: “When a child reaches the age of 3 he should be told 7 times say ‘Laa Ilaaha Illallah’. Then leave him until he reaches the age of 3 years and 7 months and 20 days. At this time he should be told 7 times to say ‘Muhammadur Rasulullah (s)’, then leave him to be free. When he turns 4 he should be told 7 times to say ‘Salallahu ‘Alaa Muhammadin Wa Aali Muhammad’. When he turns 5… (and he can distinguish his left hand from right), then turn his face towards Qiblah and tell him to do sajdah. And at the age of 6 teach him ruku’, sujud and other parts of prayer… (Wasail ush-Shia, v21, pg 474).
From the hadith it is apparent that we should bring about awareness of religion in a child early, and as they grow and show interest we can invite them to pray BUT we should do so gradually and not ask them to do too much too quickly, lest we push them away.
Hina Khan-Mukhtar says this:
For God’s sake (literally), leave those kids alone for the first 7 years!
There is a reason God has not made prayer incumbent upon children — what baffles most adults is trying to figure out how they are supposed to take the spiritual souls that have been placed under their care and then successfully prepare them for the lifelong duty of praying five times a day once their physical bodies have attained puberty. The responsibility on parents is no joke, and some of them can crack under the pressure.
In the early years, children should be allowed to join and leave the prayer at will, letting themselves get acclimated to the motions and the sensations of the ritual prayer at their own pace. Praying with the family should be an enjoyable experience — one that kids can partake in (or not) as much as they desire. Their association with prayer should be one of sweetness. I know one father who has all of his children share their duas (supplications) aloud one by one after the prayer is over so that everyone can join together in asking Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) to grant their siblings’ wishes. Once the duas are over, the kids often dissolve into tickling and wrestling matches while the father finishes up his supererogatory prayers on his own. Kids can be taught the basic adab (etiquettes) of prayer from an early age — i.e. being mindful of not walking in front of people while they are praying and resisting the urge to make loud, obnoxious noises while others are engaged in worship — but these guidelines about the prayer are all related to respectful consideration towards our fellow Muslims; as far as these little Muslims themselves are concerned, no one should be demanding any personal obligations of them just yet!
Sometimes we get so bogged down in the rites of prayer (wudhoo, dhikr, etc) that we forget WHY we are praying. So how do we teach this amazing philosophy of prayer that we have?
- When children are young – and especially if they are reluctant, rather than ‘making’ them pray, why not make them do a sajdah and encourage them to TALK to Allah. Is that not what salaah is all about anyway? A conversation with Him?
- Another idea is to remind them to link salaah to shukr. As someone commented: “…starting from, thanking Allah because of sooooooooo many blessings He has given us (try counting with them all the blessings and then give up saying “I can’t, there are just too many, uncountable”)”. Here again, modelling is essential. Do we only pray out 5 wajib salaah? Why not fall into sajdah when something good happens, and encourage our children to do the same?
- Show the children that salaah is also great for asking Allah for things, as He is the source of it all. When we need something, why not recite a two-rakaat salat for hajaat and let the children know you are doing this so they realise it has so many purposes?
- As they get older, we can try and explain the deeper meanings of remembering Him, being aware of His presence and explaining the philosophy of the different parts of salaah.
- Here are two articles that show how beneficial Salaah is to us PHYSICALLY as well! Here’s the first: Salaah makes your face glow (thanks in part to the blood that rushes to your face when we are in sujood) ?http://ilmfeed.com/this-is-why-praying-makes-your-face-glow/And following on from the previous post on Salaah helping us physically, here’s the second article on how Muslims do yoga five times a day ? A great way to perhaps explain the holistic aspects of salaah and that even when our kids (and us!) may go through a phase when they are not ‘feeling’ salaah, salaah is still always benefitting them!
And you really can’t get clearer than this!:
Hina Khan-Mukhtar says this:
Prayer should not be allowed to become a series of robotic yoga-like motions devoid of meaning or purpose. Zeeshan and I have been forthright with our kids and confessed to them that there will be times when prayer might feel like an inconvenient, rote duty that just needs to be discharged — and they may find themselves feeling disillusioned and disheartened when those thoughts come to them — but, nevertheless, the canonical prayer is never to be abandoned, no matter how ambivalent one might be feeling towards it in that moment.
“We worship Allah with our minds, bodies, and souls,” I remind my children. “If our minds and souls aren’t ‘into’ prayer for some reason, we can at least force our bodies to obey Him. And then we pray that He will eventually lead our minds and souls to follow our bodies in joy and submission as well. Allah is the One Who is in charge of our hearts. He can turn us to Him at any time He wills. We just have to make sure that we’re not the ones who’re turning away first.”