In this counseling answer:
“A child who is nurtured amidst faith and with that faith, mutual trust, mutual respect, mutual love, and mutual compassion will naturally develop a sense of belonging as well as a sense of self. They will develop skills and abilities according to their inclination. With a sense of belonging, comes taqlid, emulation, and insha ‘Allah, the child will have good role models to emulate, and she will discover herself within the fold of Islam, insha ‘Allah.”
As salamu ‘alaykum my dear sister in Islam,
It is most important that you remember that you made a life-changing decision that pertains to yourself. This change is relatively recent means that your daughter knew you in a manner different to who you are now. At her age, she will not fully understand what that means.
So just as your journey to Islam, is one of self-discovery, realization, and changing levels of understanding; so also must your daughter be given the chance to discover in a natural way.
Even more importantly, because she is experiencing different values at the school that she attends, and it is best to try and avoid any conflict between your new world, and the world in which your daughter spends most of her time – school.
In addition, as her father is not a Muslim, try to avoid any unnecessary conflict between what you represent and what your husband represents, even though you are not living together (I assume).
A child who is nurtured amidst faith and with that faith, mutual trust, mutual respect, mutual love, and mutual compassion will naturally develop a sense of belonging as well as a sense of self. They will develop skills and abilities according to their inclination. With a sense of belonging, comes taqlid, emulation, and insha ‘Allah, the child will have good role models to emulate, and she will discover herself within the fold of Islam, insha ‘Allah.
Prophet Muhammad said: “He who does not respect our elder, or is not merciful to the young, or does not feel indebted to the scholars, is not of my Nation” (Abu Dawud, #4921, and At-Tirmidhi, #1925)
All the questions you asked pertaining to when your daughter should wear hijab, pray and fast, should begin to happen now before pubescence begins, and they become body conscious! In this way, she will develop the habit before her years of saying and doing the opposite to your desire set in – the teenage years!
As a Muslimah in a non-Muslim environment, when my daughter was around the same age as your daughter is now, I did not encourage her to wear the hijab when she wanted to. I did not encourage her because she wanted to wear it because all the women around her wore hijab, and she wanted to look like the women around her. I wanted her to wear the hijab because she wanted to wear the hijab for herself and not for others.
It had to be her mind, her decision. I did not realize how much the desire was growing inside of her, until one day I was in a discussion with the Imam of a local mosque. A sister who worked at the mosque and Islamic center came into the office, and he asked her to do something. She returned with hijab, and he offered it to my daughter as a present, she just jumped for joy, took it and put it on straight away, making one happy child, and one happy mother. She has never been without a hijab since that day, and soon afterward she began attending an Islamic school, subhannallah!
“The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Allah does not accept the prayer of a woman who has reached puberty unless she wears a veil” (Abu Dawud 2: 0641).
When it comes to prayers, it would be most helpful; if you observe her changes. For instance, maybe one day, your daughter arrives home upset about something. Spend time helping her to calm down, and discussing what happened. Then explain to her about how praying allows you to take time out from life, and spend it with God. And when something disturbs you, and there is no one else around whom you want to talk to, how doing two rounds of prayer helps to calm you down, and say anything you want to God, your Creator.
Invite her to pray two raka`ts, and if she refuses, lay a place beside you for her to pray and say that you will pray for her. In this way, you can make Allah (SWT) seem like a natural, but important part of your life, and how you can call on Him at any time.
Always, when you pray, lay a place for her beside you, to make it easy for her to pray. She might say “Well I don’t know the words”. Tell her that you will say them for her (i.e. aloud), and that you can always do your own prayers afterwards.
So this may explain some of your daughter’s “shyness” to wearing hijab, which is something she is not accustomed to, and seeing hijab is around her in terms of her own family. Also, it would be a good time, to reduce T.V. viewing, in order to reduce the contradictory influences upon your daughter.
Fasting should not be gradually. For instance, she could fast for two hours, then up toSalat ul Dhur, for a while before approaching the full day mark. If your daughter wants to break her fast, allow her, and in this way you make it easy for her to want to try again the next day. Taking advantage of the Sunnah fasts will be a good time to try.
If you know of a converted group of women with children, this would act as additional support, insha ‘Allah.
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