As Muslims, we all know the importance of Salah (prayer). It is the first thing that we will be brought to account for in front of Allah (swt), and is the most important pillar of Islam after the Shahadah.
Thus, it is so important that we encourage our children to form the habit of praying, and develop a love for performing Salah. We want them to feel a desire to pray within themselves and long to speak to their Lord, without being compelled to do so by their parents. However, they must understand that it is an obligation to pray, and not a choice.
Here are ten ways you can encourage your child to pray:
1. Teach by Example
Children like to imitate their parents. Let them see you making wudu’ and taking your prayer mat once you hear the adhan.
As the parent, you are the primary example to your child of what being a Muslim means. If you prioritize the prayer in your day, and do not delay or miss it, your child will grow-up knowing its importance.
You can tell them,
“I have an appointment with Allah. I can’t be late!”
2. Start Young
It is reported that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:
“Teach your children to pray when they are seven years old, and smack them (lightly) if they do not pray when they are 10 years old, and separate them in their beds.”[Abu Dawod (459) and Ahmad (6650)]
Although it is not necessary for children to pray before seven years-old, it is still wise to create an atmosphere in the home that encourages them to pray when they are young.
3. Let Them Have Their Own Musalla
If you have space, allocate a specific room as a prayer room. If you cannot do this, then try to find a corner of a room that is only for prayer.
Children will understand how important the prayer is that it has even been given its own area in the house. Teach the children that this area is only for Salah and must be kept clean and tidy.
4. Make it Visual!
Children respond well to visual cues and reward charts.
Charts and Islamic calendars will encourage your children to pray on time. Hang it up somewhere in the home and it will act as a visual reminder to your child, reminding him of the times of each prayer.
Alternatively you can make prayer tree. For every prayer the child does on time, they color in one leaf green and they know that Allah is happy with them. If the prayer is late they color in the leaf orange and they are warned that Allah doesn’t like late prayers, and they must try harder. If they miss a prayer, then the leaf is colored in red, and they are warned that Allah may not be happy with them, and they should go and make Tawbah (repentance).
5. Party Time!
When your child turns seven years, throw them a “Prayer Party!” Invite all their friends to share in the excitement of this new stage in their life.
Give them their own prayer mat, hijab, tasbeeh or adhan alarm clock. They will be so excited and proud that they can start praying Salah.
6. Teach Them About Allah
Without an understanding of Allah, the prayer becomes just a ritual; a ritual that is lacking a spiritual and emotional connection to their Lord (SWT).
From infancy, talk to your children about how Allah made everything, and how Allah provides for them and will protect them. This will inculcate a deep love for Allah in their hearts.
7. Make The Prophet (pbuh) Their Hero!
Talk about the Prophet (pbuh) in your home. Read stories and talk about his Seerah as part of your normal daily routine. As he becomes more beloved to them, they will take him as their role model and want to copy him. They will want to pray because he did!
8. Small Steps
It can be a very dramatic jump to go from never praying, to praying all five prayers daily. So start in small steps.
9. Be Consistent
Although we want our children to love the prayer, there will be times when they feel lazy and do not want to pray.
As parent’s it is our responsibility to make sure that they pray, particularly by the time they are ten years-old. Do not allow them to miss the prayer. To establish the habit you must be consistent, no matter what!
10. Family Time
One way of encouraging a positive attitude to the prayer, is to make it a collective practice.
Try to pray at least once a day as a family, with the father leading the prayer. If your child is able, give him the responsibility of making the adhan (call the prayer).
Take your children to the Friday prayer and Eid prayers as often as possible. The power of seeing a whole community praying together is so important and will give them a strong sense of identity.
First published: August 2017