Surah Al-Fatihah is the first Chapter in the noble Quran. I believe it should also be the first Chapter in our life.
We start each day off by praising Allah and then asking for Almighty’s help and guidance to stay on the right path.
And we hope for this not only for ourselves, but also for our offspring and generations to come.
In a world that increasingly debases the Islamic deen (religion) and khuloq (morals), raising your kids to be righteous Muslims is a challenge.
With all the detrimental influence lingering around the corner, even raising them in countries where Islam is the main religion is challenging due to the globalization of practices that are foreign to Islamic ideals.
At times, raising them in places where Muslims constitute a minority poses even more threat, as the mainstream society hails from other beliefs and practices that often clash with the former.
How can we raise our kids to become practicing Muslim pioneers in a non-Muslim country?
First and Foremost, we must renew our intention. Do we want kids just because this is the norm in most cultures; or do we intend to have offspring in order to worship and serve Almighty by implementing Allah’s words in the Quran of being His khalifa (vicegerent) on earth?
Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: “I will create a vicegerent on earth… (2:30)
Secondly, it is most feasible to examine the methodology from a number of perspectives. Through the five agents of socialization we will be able to explore from a sociological angle what molds our characters and affects us the most in our upbringing: Family, Religion, Peer, School, Mass Media.
It goes without saying that the family is the primary and most vital agent in shaping our personalities into both good and bad. Both the actions and reactions of a parent/s affect the child from a very young age.
As actions speak louder than words, whatever behavior you want to instill in your offspring, will only occur when s/he sees you implementing it yourself. So, if you want to teach them to love Allah and be God-conscious you have to start off with yourself. Be what you preach!
Teach your kids to love Allah and abstain from what is bad because that is what Allah wants us to do and what is good for us, not only because Mum and Dad and others don’t like that behavior. Then, they will learn to act in accordance with our lovely deen even when you are not around.
Sister Om Yahia from Texas, USA, tells me how she discovered to her amazement how her son had abstained from the music/dance lessons in the school curriculum without her even knowing as he told his teacher they went against his religious conviction.
Masha’Allah his mother had taught him Islamic teachings and how to follow them even in her absence. Don’t we all want that for our children?
From a very young age, a Muslim child must be brought up to love his religion, not fear it; while at the same time respect his/her beliefs and stand up for them and not shy or coward away.
Drs. Ekram and Mohamed Rida Beshir, pioneers in the field of parenting in the West; both residing in Canada, emphasize this point in their book: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions on Parenting (Part 1):
“For Parents to balance an Islamic personality with interactions in mainstream, non-Muslim, (Canadian) society, they must raise their children to have a strong Islamic identity and self-confidence. This way, the children will find it possible to mix with non-Muslims and excuse themselves when an un-Islamic act is taking place.”
Another important aid for Muslim kids growing up in the West is the role played by the Masjid. To aid them in staying away from all the western society’s temptations, we must provide an interesting, enjoyable substitute.
Besides Prayers and Lectures; interesting weekend programs, fun Islamic activities alongside Youth Groups for the older kids; that help them share their problems while at the same time strengthening their Islamic identities with other Muslim youth is a necessity.
I believe it is also essential that each Muslim family has a connection with some other Muslim families that have offspring in their children’s age and who live by the teachings of Islam.
In meeting with those families on a regular basis, their kids will have a sense of Islamic belonging and thus feel more calm and happy and stronger in facing the tides of peer pressure from mainstream society.