How can we raise our children on Tawheed?
The message of Tawheed, in terms of today, we have to be clear on ourselves and we have to raise our children based on this message systematically from the earliest of the ages until the time when they leave our homes. This message should be translated into moral behavior. We relate everything that we teach our children back to God. We should say, “You do this, not because I say that you have to do it, but because this is what is pleasing to Allah. You don’t do this, not because I will be upset or I will punish you if you do this, but you don’t do this because it is displeasing to God.” We raise our children based on this consciousness, that right and wrong is based on what is pleasing to God and what is displeasing to God. So if we raise them with that kind of consciousness, then, even when we are not around, they will be guided. This is the basis of taqwa. This consciousness is basis of Ehsaan. We feel that Allah is watching us, and we are obliged to do what is right, regardless of the circumstances. That is what we want from them.
It is very important because it is very easy for us to raise our children focusing on Islamic rituals instead of the essential message of taqwa. Because from the very beginning, the little child, when we get up to pray, and they reach about the age of three years old, and they may get up and stand up beside us. And when people see this condition, they will praise the child. And the child learns that when he does this, it makes people pleased. And he will do it again and again to get the attention from people. What exactly are we teaching him? It is riyaa’, minor shirk. Probably it is okay to teach this thing in the early age, but when they reach the age where they can understand Allah, we need to correct this kind of attitude, that they should pray because of Allah. If they are raised to do the prayer because of people’s praise, then it is very dangerous for their future. We should protect them throughout their life. We need to build the foundation based on the essential message of taqwa.
Thus, we need to raise them with the consciousness of taqwa. Without this consciousness, they will be spiritually challenged. They may fall and go astray. And this is what is happening today to the children. Large numbers of children turn away from Islam by the influence of the society around them. This is also because of lack of tawheed message within the home. It should be established on principle, not merely words or traditions, but on clear principles, which are understandable. Without that, we can only pray that Allah will guide them through their life.
That message needs to be reinterpreted through the pillars of Islam and the pillars of Emaan. These are the basic principles of Islam. Each pillar should be interpreted from a moral perspective, how does that pillar translate itself morally in our life. And you will find in the Qur'an, you will also find it in the Sunnah, clarification as to what the moral message is. It is there. When you hear Allah speaking about Salah, He said,
“Verily salah prevent evil’s speech and evil’s deed”
These are the moral principles. Prophet (ﷺ) said,
“Whoever believes in Allah and last day, let him speak good thing or be silent”
Be careful of what comes out of our mouth. We are morally responsible to speak good or best be silent. The pillars of Islam have to be translated that way, can’t be just the movement; we teach them what may be called “monkey salah”. Monkey salah means, it is like we take monkeys and teach them salah. The salah will have no impact on them. We have to go beyond that. We may be taught by our parents to do salah just based on “just do it” sequence. Or we may do salah just because everybody around us does it and we just copy everything that they do in salah. The danger in this practice is explained by Prophet (ﷺ):
“Some people will do the deeds of people of paradise as it appears to everyone, but they will be from the people of the hell..."
They do the deeds of people of paradise, which is praying five times a day, but only doing the movements and the motions. This kind of ritual will not bring anyone to paradise. Prophet (ﷺ) also said that,
"...nobody will enter paradise except a true believer..." 
 [Qur’an al-Ankaboot:45]
 [Sahih al-Bukhari 6136]
 [al-Bukhaari (3208) and Muslim (2643)]
 [Reported by al-Bukhaari, 6047]< Back to Questions