When our kids reach the age of about 7-11, we start pressuring them to begin praying, memorizing and reading the Arabic Quran. When they resist us or don’t perform these duties on time, we show anger and scold them.
While you might think your scolding is justified and they will turn closer to your style of Islamic teachings because of it, inside, they are probably running further away, fearing Islam and the way you teach it.
It is understood that this world is a test enjoined on us to see which of us are the best in deeds, hence it is also understandable why parents start exerting such pressure on their children from a young age itself. However, simply pressurizing, commanding and inducing the notions of ‘God-Fear’ at a young age is not going to help the case.
Children are naturally attracted to ideas of peace, innocence, love, care, protection and related notions. Attempting to induce the ideas of ‘God-fear’, punishments and the rest will only make them want to avoid it more.
For the upbringing of children with good religious notions, they must be taught it from the very basics, and from what is most needed at that age.
If you want a person to be friends with someone you admire, how would you introduce them?
“Hey, meet this guy, he’s amazing, kind, caring and is always going to be there for you!”
“Hey, meet this guy, he’s the most powerful here and make sure you don’t do anything bad or else he’s going to stab you in the throat”.
Which one of the introductions is going to give a good/bad impression? The choice is yours.
Introducing the concept of God and religion to children must start with the very basics of the love and compassion that comes first. Children must know that their creator is Ar-Rahman (The most merciful), Ar-Razzaq (The ever providing), Al Wadud (The loving) Ar-Rashid (The guide), and not the one who punishes, the strict etc.
With such concepts, the children will actually be interested in knowing more about the religion then, in a world where barely anyone can be trusted, where warfare and havoc is widespread- children would definitely love to have faith in a force of absolute goodness and majesty.
They must only be introduced the side of punishments and consequences later in life, once their faith and love has been established.
God-fear, awareness, trust and love all have to come in a balance. The way you trust your parents and love them for the way they are there for you and help you but yet you fear them at times when you do something wrong or mess up. There should not be complete saturation of only love, nor complete saturation of only fear- a balance of both is the best.
It is also important to understand, that when kids are exposed to the sensitive and consequences side of Islam, even then they must be shown the mercy behind what is mentioned.
For instance, the 55th chapter of the Quran, Surah Rahman (Rahman meaning the most merciful), there is vivid and violently graphic description of hell. It may seem ironic why such mention and threat is posed in a chapter that translates to mercy.
But indeed behind this as well there is wisdom and love. Right after the description of hellfire, this verse follows- “But for he who has feared the position of his lord are two gardens [heaven]” [55:46] further followed by slight description of heaven.
The whole purpose of the description of hell was to see whether or not it makes us scared, and if it did, then “for he who has feared…. are two gardens”.
If this makes sense to you, share it forward and help setting the future right!
Feedback from children who can relate and all parents that read this is welcome and encouraged!