Summarized by Samah Syed from the ‘The Muslim Parenting Struggle‘ webinar by Mufti Abdullah Nana.
Being a good parent is no easy task. From the moment of birth onwards you are entirely responsible for the physical, mental and emotional well-being and upbringing of another human being. As Muslim parents, this responsibility is even greater because your biggest duty is to ensure that you inculcate a solid understanding and practice of Islam into the next generation. The importance of this is illustrated in the story of Prophet Ya’qub (peace be upon him) who even upon his deathbed was solely concerned with how his sons would worship after his passing:
“And Ibrahim instructed his sons[to do the same] and [so did] Ya’qub, [saying], “O my sons, indeed Allah has chosen for you this religion, so do not die except while you are Muslims”. (Quran, 2:132)
To preserve Islam in our children, there are five guiding factors that as parents we should follow:
#1 Make Du’a
A parent’s du’a for his or her child is one that is never left unanswered. It is the most powerful means by which you can ensure the guidance and spiritual well-being of your child. It is mentioned in a hadith:
“Three du’as are not rejected; the du’a of a father, the du’a’ of a traveler and the du’a of an oppressed person.” (Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud)
Likewise, a mother’s du’a is also equally as powerful and accepted. Thus we must make it a point daily to sincerely turn to Allah ﷻ and implore Him to guide and protect our children in all of the daily challenges that they face. Du’a can be made in any language as long as it is from the heart, however, there are Qur’anic supplications that would greatly benefit us to memorize in Arabic (see Qur’an references below), learn the meanings and incorporate into our daily lives:
My Lord, make me an establisher of prayer, and [many] from my descendants. Our Lord, and accept my supplication. Our Lord, forgive me and my parents and the believers the Day the account is established. (14:40–41)
Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous. (25:74)
My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favour which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to work righteousness of which You will approve and make righteous for me my offspring. Indeed, I have repented to You, and indeed, I am of the Muslims. (46:15)
As mere creations, we do not host the power to guide or transform our children’s spiritual condition by ourselves. The power to change hearts and grant ultimate guidance lies with the Almighty alone.
Although there is great power in du’a, it would not be enough for us to simply make du’a and then sit back and expect everything to fall perfectly in place. As with everything, alongside du’a, there is the need for human effort. With regards to Islamic education, we must ensure that we are able to at least provide basic Islamic knowledge to our children. This would include that which is mandatory or fard ayn for every Muslim to know such as the basic fiqh of purification and salah as well as Qur’an recitation. We must also create awareness in our children about that which is permissible and that which is forbidden. By doing so we enable them to carry out the commands of Allah ﷻ and attain His pleasure, as is mentioned in the Qur’an:
O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones, over which are [appointed] angels, harsh and severe; they do not disobey Allah in what He commands them but do what they are commanded. (Qur’an, 66:6)
#3 Teach Islamic Etiquette
Beyond the basic book learning of Islam, it is imperative on us to teach our children how to live Islam. This includes the manners, morals and character we instill within them such as kindness, respect, humility, tolerance, gratitude and patience. A very practical manner in which these values can be placed into our children is by getting them to volunteer and spend time with those less fortunate. It is our duty to ensure that we raise children that will grow up to be positive, contributing members of society. It was from the habit of our pious predecessors to engage in the observation of their teachers’ character and etiquette and then implement what they saw into their own lives.
Imam Malik’s mother advised him to first learn from the character and manners of his teacher before seeking his knowledge. It was common for people of the past to spend years in the company of the pious simply to inculcate their manners and values into themselves. It is important to remember that this tarbiyyah (nurturing) towards Islamic etiquette is an on-going process. It is a delusion to simply spend a weekend at an Islamic conference and then expect a complete transformation in your child’s etiquette. We must keep striving on a regular basis to impart these values by establishing weekly ta’lims, i.e., study sessions using a book expounding the virtues of good actions in our homes on a regular basis. One such good book that could be used for this purpose is the famous hadith collection, Fada’il al-A’mal.
#4 Commit to Positive Reinforcement at Home
The best way to instill Islamic etiquette into our children is to simply “walk the walk”. This means that we must become role models that actually practice that which we preach to our children. It is important to note that from a young age a child learns to imitate their parent’s every action. Thus, if the child sees his or her parent praying, or observing a modest and Islamic dress code, he or she will automatically try to do the same.
Similarly, if the child sees the parent using foul language or hurting another individual, he or she will follow suit. The companion Zubayr (may Allah be pleased with him) took his fourteen year old son Abdullah bin Zubayr (may Allah be pleased with him) to the battlefield with him simply for him to observe and learn and this contributed towards him growing up to become one of the greatest leaders in Islam. Therefore, whenever possible, we must engage our children with our workplaces or places of volunteerism so that they may learn from our interactions and behavior.
#5 Bond with Your Children
Probably the most important element in any parent-child relationship is the bond and connection that the two share. This bond must go beyond simply feeding, clothing and educating the child. We must provide our children with constant love, support and encouragement. It is against the prophetic example to be harsh towards our children or to degrade them.
We must not push our children beyond their capacity, especially in matters of religion. It is not necessary for every child to become a hafiz or an ‘alim and if we push them too hard, resentment may build in their hearts towards us as well as towards Islam. We should present Islam in a loving manner such that they genuinely wish to practice its teachings out of their own free will.
The Prophet ﷺ would win the hearts of youth with the gentleness in which he spoke and the compassion he would show them. Anas Ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) spent ten years in the service of the Prophet ﷺ and stated that there was never a single occasion in those ten years where He ﷺ rebuked him or was harsh with him. The Prophet ﷺ would also engaged in humour with the youth and this serves to remind us of the importance of having fun with our children. Our duty is not simply to educate and discipline, but also to be a friend to our children. We must engage in enjoyable lawful activities such as sports, archery, swimming, hiking, etc. By doing so, we win over the heart and mind of the child such that they look forward to spending time with us.
How to Support Student Learning at Home
Parents are a child’s first teachers and the home is a child’s first classroom. As key resources for learning and growth, parents help to shape a child’s social, emotional and physical development so that he/she can thrive in school and beyond.
Supporting student success starts with a shared agreement among families, schools and the community to work together and it involves committed actions to make it happen.
10 Tips for Parents
As a parent, you can do your part at home to reinforce this important family-school partnership. To help prepare your children for school readiness to stay on track and expand their learning opportunities:
- Set up a daily family routine, including healthy eating and sleeping habits
- Provide a place and time at home for homework
- Check on assignments, homework and projects
- Talk each day with your child about his/her activities
- Promote literacy by reading to your child and by reading yourself
- Limit and monitor TV watching, gaming, social media and computer time
- Express high expectations and standards for your child’s learning
- Attend parent-teacher conferences, Open House and Back-To-School events
- Participate in decisions that affect your child’s education
- Tap into community resources with visits to a library, museum, zoo or theater and encourage participation in after-school clubs, sports and art activities
Engaged parents are a key factor in helping students and schools succeed. With families, schools and communities working together as partners, student achievement is enhanced and children are better prepared to do well in school.
Keep in the Loop
With pre-teens and teens, staying connected with student learning remains critical. Yet, studies show that family engagement in school drops as students move from elementary to middle and high school.
With this transition to higher grades, parents often face new challenges including figuring out ways to best support student success at home.
Parent involvement at middle and high school takes many forms. Whether it’s checking homework, talking more about college and career choices, attending Open House or volunteering for PTA and booster clubs, your engagement makes a difference.
By knowing what’s happening in the classroom and on campus, you can help your student to focus on coursework and school activities to ensure college and career readiness.