Idea 9: Teach them GRADUALLY


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.

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