What should we teach our young child from the beginning?
It is the right of the Muslim children that they be educated Islamically. Most of us understand that they may be educated, but the focus is not Islamic, it is simply that they be educated, like going to the best schools, getting higher degree. When the Prophet (ﷺ) said seeking knowledge is compulsory upon every Muslim, he meant Islamic knowledge. Gaining other knowledge is beneficial, one does not write it off, but Islamic knowledge is what is important. That should begin from the early stages, and should be the foundation.
The first word a child should learn, if possible, should be ALLAH, rather than 'baba' and 'mama'. When the child is putting his sentences together, teach him Allah is above, not here, there and everywhere. At the same time we teach the child that He knows and sees everyone, we should instill in them love and fear of Allah from the very beginning. We should bring them up on La ilaaha illallaah.
We should talk about heaven and hell even from the very beginning. Western upbringing says that we should not teach the child horrible concepts of punishment; burning in hell fire and only give the child love. But Allah teaches about heaven and hell so the child should be aware of it.
It should be fed to them in a simple manner that if we do good things, we go to heaven. We need not go into the fine details of heaven and hell, but just let them know that there is a good and bad place and that they should always try to avoid bad place. If they do well, they end up in a good place and if they do bad, they land in bad place. They should know about the Day of Judgement, that they will be held into account.
They should also know that even though parents may not see them doing certain things, Allah does, and they should develop the habit of doing righteous deeds even when authorities are not around, that is ehsaan. We should strive to give them that consciousness of ehsaan.
Also, we should instill in them love for the Prophet (ﷺ) because that is our Shahadah; Prophet Muhammed (ﷺ) is the messenger of Allah. That is a part and parcel of our lives. He should be the greatest symbol of their lives; not superheroes, not superman. The hero for them should be our Prophet (ﷺ) and the other Prophets too. In particular we should help them develop a love for the Prophet (ﷺ) which they can do only if they know about him. So we should raise them with stories about him, how he guided us, how Islam was sent through him and how he showed us our way to Paradise, etc.
And as part and parcel of the education, we should develop formal education for our children for aqeedah and akhlaaq. We should start Salaah when they are young, as the Prophet (ﷺ) said that children should learn Salaah at the age of 7. Knowing Salaah, is not merely knowing the actions of it. You, as parents, get the reward and punishment when your children pray, fast and make hajj. Train them to have wudhu, teach them of their awrah.
In general, children love stories. There are stories of the Sahabas and Prophets. Read such things to them as bed time stories. We should take advantage of their strong memories in their early years and involve them in memorizing the Qur'an if possible. What greater blessing can we do than giving them Qur'an! Of course, we should do it in a proper way. We should not teach them the Qur'an with a stick over their head. Unfortunately, the method employed in many Qur'an teaching schools destroys the love of the Qur'an because they brutalize them. Of course they do need some pressure, but not to the extent as I have seen around the Muslim world. In most of the madrassahs that teach Qur'an, it is not done in a loving way. The children leave these schools scarred. We should do it in a way to endear the Qur'an to them and not to turn them off from it.
We should also make ruqya on them before they go to bed. They should learn the Mu'awwadhatayn and do it for themselves. We should use their daily experiences to teach them about Islam. Teach the girls modesty, hijaab, teach the boys responsibility.
We should have in our homes Islamic libraries, books, tapes, CD’s, etc. We should have a sufficient range of media. Children are always attracted to visuals, so we should have sufficient stuffs so that they don’t feel the need to run off and watch other things which are destructive.< Back to Questions