Play and Pray: Here is How Imam Drew Children to Mosque

Making the mosque more kid-friendly with a new playground, the imam is now overwhelmed with high number of kids.

An imam in  northern city of Kocaeli in Başiskele district, Turkey, has succeeded in attracting a big number of children to summer Qur’an classes in his mosque by making it more kid-friendly with a new playground, Daily Sabah reported.

“I used to play around at the mosque, while the adults were praying when I was a child, and they’d always chide me,” Kadir Çelikiz, who serves as the imam of Merkez Mosque in the northwestern city said.

“This used to worry me a lot. I wanted to end this mindset and make children more attached to the mosque,” he added.

The idea came to Çelikiz when he noticed that a very few number of children signed up for the Qur’an summer classes in the mosque.

Serving as an imam for 10 years in the same mosque, he decided to take actions in his own hands and contacted sponsors for activities.

Play and Pray: Here is How Imam Drew Children to Mosque - About Islam

With their help, he installed an inflatable playground, started staging theater plays for children and serving them popcorn and candy.

Soon after, the number of children attending the classes swelled to 150 from only 30 in a year, and a record 250 children signed up for classes this year.

The imam’s efforts paid off as he recalls an encounter with three children last week.

“They were my students at summer school but were absent for a few days. I asked them why they did not come, and they told me that their parents did not want them to come to the mosque because it was far from their home, but they insisted and came anyway.”

Play and Pray: Here is How Imam Drew Children to Mosque - About Islam

Elif Hasanatu, a young Syrian girl who is among Çelikiz’s students, said she was happy to “have fun and learn Quran at the same time.”

Hasanatu, an illiterate girl, says the classes also had an extra benefit for her to learn Arabic. “We have very good teachers here. You only need to finish the class to go out and play,” she said.

Play and Pray: Here is How Imam Drew Children to Mosque - About Islam

In May 2019, a mosque in Kelantan, Malaysia, promised free bikes for children who attended prayer all through the holy month of Ramadan.

In 2018, a mosque in Al-Beheira governorate of Egypt announced a competition to encourage children to keep up with their Fajr (dawn) prayers, offering a reward to those who managed to pray at the mosque for 40 days in a row.

The idea of the competition is copied from a similar one in Sultan Selim Mosque in the Fatih district of Istanbul which offered gifts and bicycles to kids who attended Fajr prayer for 40 days in a row.

In July 2018, the municipality of Konya in Turkey also launched its ‘Come to Mosque and Have Fun’ Project that encouraged children between 7 and 14 years old to pray the Fajr (Dawn) prayer daily for 40 consecutive days.

The children were encouraged through prizes and granting the diligent kids a bonus mark at school for behavior and performance.