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How to Ensure Our Kids Are Muslims with Conviction?

11 May, 2023
Q As-Salaamu `Alaykum. I have heard that it is scientifically proven that a child absorbs everything in his formative years and works according to that thinking when he grows older. It means that whatever way I think now is what the 8-year-old version of me thinks. I feel that kids should only be taught Islam in depth when they are 14 or 15. Prior to that, we should keep teaching them but with smaller doses. So this way we ensure they made a choice and are Muslims with convictions, not just because they were born in a Muslim family. What age are they smart enough to fully understand? P.S. I know Islam is the truth


Following is the answer provided by Dr. Mohammed Sadiq:

Wa `Alaykum Salaam sister,

Alhamdulillah, I was happy to read the last sentence of your question, “I know Islam is the truth.”

Now then, first of all, understand that Islam is not about following some rituals at a certain time of the day or week. It is a lifestyle; it’s a code of how to live your life. I am sure that you are a very intelligent young lady and already know this.

We all begin to live our lives as soon as we are born. For a while, our parents look after us and carry us through the time when we are unable to look after ourselves and make our decisions and choices. Then, as we grow older, we want to make our own decisions and our choices. These days, the motto, “It’s my life and my choice,” is everywhere on the lips of our growing children. But, how would they live their life and what frame of reference would they use to make their choices, if they are never guided to develop an appropriate and healthy frame of reference?

Now, if you believe that Islam is a lifestyle and it does provide the truly successful ways to make healthy and correct choices for your life here and in hereafter, then it becomes imperative that parents themselves live and teach that lifestyle to their children from the very beginning, and as you said, of course, in small doses, and according to their level of understanding.

And remember, it is not just teaching the doctrine of Islam, but the day to day living of Islam; the importance and the practice of cleanliness, the importance and practice of salah (prayer), the understanding and practice of appropriate clothing, the manners of talking to the elders, and the manners of conducting themselves in public, the proper ways of having fun and the improper ways also with the simple explanations of why are they improper, etc.
There is no reason to wait until the child is 14 or 15 to teach him/her all these things about day to day Islamic life.

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Indeed, kids are very smart – smarter than some of the parents, but being smart alone does not cut it when it comes to making right choices. Kids are very smart these days, but they are often not wise enough to make the right choices, and that wisdom needs to be developed from a very early age.

Hope this helps you understand it better, In sha’ Allah. All the best to you.

Following is the answer provided by Counselor Jeewan Chanicka:

Dear Sister,

I think your question is really about HOW we teach children to know Allah and to understand their relationship with him.

We are fortunate enough to know that when we are born, we are born in a state offitra (purity). In our weakest and most innocent state, we know Allah and we are submissive to Him. As we grow, that may change based on our surroundings and our experiences. One thing we can go back to is, HOW did the Prophet (peace be upon him) advise us about this?

In one narration, he (peace be upon him) said and this is a paraphrase: raise and teach them through play in the first 7 years of their life, then by education in the next 7 and then by being a friend in the 7 after that. This simple advice embraces what modern psychology tells us today.

In the first 7 years, we play with them and in the ways that we play we teach them to know Allah and his prophet and right and wrong. Instead, many parents teach through fear, all they talk about is hell and being punished, thus their children are raised with FEAR of Allah, not a sense of hope or gratitude that should rightfully be a part of their understanding of their Creator.

As they get older, then we begin to teach them more of the principles and knowledge surrounding what they need to know. This does not mean we cannot teach them key things before this, but we do so in small doses, measured by the ability and willingness of our children.

As they become around 14 and over, we are instructed to be our child’s friend. This is the time they feel they know everything and they want to take on the world. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was kind and would often ask questions to make young people think critically so they could understand what they needed to do from inside themselves and around their own relationship with Allah.

I hope there is something in my answer that helps to give you a sense of direction about raising children in Islam.

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. In no event shall AboutIslam, 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 Jeewan Chanicka
Jeewan Chanicka is from Toronto, Canada, and has been involved in working with youth, education, and social services issues since 1993. He graduated with a bachelor's degree with honors in individualized studies at York University with a focus on conflict resolution and culturally appropriate forms of mediation. He has done much work with both youth and adults, especially around parenting, teenage and youth issues, and bridging the gap between generations.