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Teaching Through Stories

30 September, 2022
Q I'm teaching my 5-year-old kid the story of Prophet Yusuf. I basically told the story and then started reading the Quran and offering simple explanations of the verses. My question is how I tackle the part about the wife of Al-Aziz trying to tempt Yusuf. How do I explain that without telling him too much. At the same time, I see many opportunities to teach like lowering the gaze, keeping amanat (things entrusted to you), or telling the truth. Someone suggested that I should just tell him that she had amana, something only her husband should take which she wanted to give to Sayedna Yusuf, but he refused and she caused his going to jail. What do you all think? Jazakum Allah Khayrun.



Storytelling. What a wonderful way of education! When Allah (SWT) ordered parents to guard the pure souls of children entrusted to them and to do their best to fulfill His trust in the coming generation.

He provided parents with every mean that could help them perfect this mission.

Allah has showed us in the Holy Qur`an and in the prophetic traditions the effective ways of education and has given us a lot of examples to guide us.

Education by setting an example, by creating self-respect, by playing, by preaching, and many other ways which when properly learnt and sincerely followed would bring about a good, pious, moral and successful child.

One of the best and most effective ways of education is through storytelling.

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Stories have a magical effect on the soul when the stories arise out of the fabric of the imagination and the environment.

It has always been so and will go on forever; it runs through our blood as a part of our creation, from birth to old age.

A good story-teller can have a personal style that has psychological effects and can make intellectual/spiritual impressions.

Logical and mental motivations may be because of the power of imagination that follows actions from one scene to another or imagining ourselves as its true heroes or empathizing with them in their fears and tears.

Why Should We Narrate Stories to Our Children?

Stories teach diverse points of view, help shape culture, and allow children to actively share knowledge using their imagination.


It develops mental skills in children and adults while conveying a moral lesson.

These stories show also other things which are not always as they appear and often logic fails us (as in Surat Al Kahf). Through the enjoyment of the story, you will subconsciously allow your mind to get the deeper significance of the tale.

Stories are a point of contact with the universe that helps young ones make sense of the world.

To read mindfully means to become more conscious of the nature of the words we take in and more conscious of how we transform and appropriate those words.

The “teaching-story”, which is common in most traditions because adults use this form to help the child understand needed lessons, does all this and more.

It’s real psychological significance and developmental potential is just now being rediscovered, investigated and applied in the West.

“Studies have shown that reading or hearing a Teaching-Story activates the right side of the brain much more than does reading other stories or material. The right side of the brain provides ‘context,’ the essential function of putting together different components of experience into a meaningful pattern. The left side provides the ‘text,’ or the components such as the words or elements of an illustration.”

Teaching-Stories help the children to be more flexible in dealing with the surrounding complex world and through the multiple layers, they possess the wisdom that could be revealed over tim, or in response to some other experience or event.

What Can We Teach Through Stories?

Almost everything, Aqeeda (faith), Akhlaq (morals), Seerah (prophetic biography), life experience, literature, human communication skills and even Fiqh (look at how Al Hassan and Al Hussein taught another man how to perform wudu`- ablutions).

Islam and story telling

Islam uses all kinds of stories in Qur`an and Sunnah; the historical stories that sometimes refers to particular real persons (prophetic stories) or just a human case that will be repeated through time (e.g. sons of Adam and the owners of the garden).

In your situation, you have chosen Prophet Yusuf’s story (a very good choice, indeed), but it is not crucial to tell the whole story or all the lessons from that story to your child.

In terms of friendship, you can convey how people one does not know very well tried to trick him into making many mistakes. They failed to trick him, because he refused to do what they wanted to do, and so, for no reason he was imprisoned.

When your child is old enough to understand more, you can tell him the rest of the story which teaches them what they need to know at that age.

You can tell him a lot about prophet Yahia and how his manners and faith was.

{ O Yahya! take hold of the Book with strength, and We granted him wisdom while yet a child, And tenderness from Us and purity, and he was one who guarded (against evil), And dutiful to his parents, and he was not insolent, disobedient} (Maryam 19:1214)

And postpone telling him that Yahya was beheaded because he refused to let a prostitute marry her uncle …and so on.

Post-Listening Activity

One of the most useful ways to test their response is to encourage your children to tell these stories to you or to their friends and allow them to invent some of their own. They can also act it out in a form of a short play with their friends. You will be amazed by their abilities and creativity.

Hope I was able to help and if there is a certain issue you want to put through a story you can always write to us.

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. If you feel you are going to harm yourself, or harm someone else, please seek immediate help by calling your country’s international hotline! In no event shall About Islam, it’s volunteers, writers, scholars, counselors, or employees be held liable for any direct, indirect, exemplary, punitive, consequential or other damages whatsoever that may arise through your decision or action in the use of the services which our website provides.

About Mona Salama
Mona Salama is a Medical Nutrition Specialist. Parenting Counselor and hold an Ijaza in Islamic Da`wah. She Graduated from Faculty of Medicine-Cairo University.