Tips for Raising Righteous Kids

{Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous.} (Quran 25:74)

I once met an American Christian who was telling me how her devout Christian friend had chosen to enroll her kids in a private Christian school as she was worried her kids would be negatively impacted by the secular behavior prevailing in a lot of public schools.

I was dumbfounded, I thought to myself: “SubhanAllah so it is not just us Muslims who feel the threat of the increasingly secular mainstream society.”

It goes without saying that devout Muslim parents hope their kids too would be righteous, successful members in their societies and while the latter in this modern era might be pursued more easily with prestigious education, etc. the former sets a bigger challenge. However, with Allah’s grace we can try to achieve it by the following steps.

The Power of Du’a

First and Foremost for raising righteous kids we need to invoke Allah:

{And your Lord said: ‘Invoke Me [i.e. believe in My Oneness (Islamic Monotheism) and ask Me for anything] I will respond to your (invocation)…} {Quran 40:60)

We should repeat daily this beautiful du’a (derived from the Quran): “O Allah make us among: {[And] those who pray, “Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous.} (Al-Furqan 25:74)

The Role of the Muslim Family

I believe that the cornerstone of the Muslim Kids’ ability to face challenges in the secular mainstream society starts within the shelter of a strong, loving Muslim family. From a very young age, a Muslim child must be brought up to experience the comfort of a loving family that would listen and provide support and learn to love his/her religion, not fear it; while at the same time respect his/her beliefs and stand up for them and not shy away.

Drs. Ekram and Mohamed Rida Beshir, pioneers in the subject 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.”

Islamic Worship & Ethics

In order to instill Islamic worship & ethics in our kids, we need to “checklist” family, mosque, peers, school and media. Family needs to provide love and support, and walk the walk of Islamic worship & ethics.

The mosque being a place of worship is a haven for our kids to learn their Deen. In the west, mosques also provide an interesting, enjoyable substitute for mainstream society’s places to hang out.

Besides Prayers and Lectures, fun, Islamic activities like story time, sports, Islamic calligraphy & art competitions, etc. alongside Youth Groups 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 family/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.

The issue of Islamic Schooling is one that often arises amongst Muslim families living in the West. Some find it to be the best option to maintain their kids’ Islamic identity, especially through the rough years of adolescence, whilst others feel they can opt for public schooling and leave the Islamic teaching to the home and masjid.

There is also a third party who would prefer to enroll their offspring in Islamic schooling, but hold off due to the often lower standard of those schools, usually because of lack in resources, professionalism, etc.

I believe both options have their pros and cons. Sending kids to public schools will help them feel a part of a larger society and thus aid them in dealing normally with the rest of the society while, moreover often, leading them to maintaining a willingness to “be something” on a larger scale. However, it would be more challenging for them to maintain their Islamic identities.

On the other hand, opting for Islamic schooling will often make them feel more “at home” creating a safe haven, whilst at the same time giving them the opportunity of an Islamic teaching. However, it will often not help them integrate as much with the rest of the society isolating them further off and perhaps making them less ambitious to achieve something on a wider scale.

As for media, we need to closely monitor what our kids watch; whether it be TV or gadgets. It is not healthy for kids especially as they grow into youth to be left alone with any gadgets.

A good idea would be to have more time set to the afore mentioned: family, mosque and other good Muslim families so as to lessen the time needed for media and also to substitute mainstream media with Islamic enjoyable media as much as possible.

I would like to share some recommendations for Islamic media from sister Hina Khan-Mukhtar from her article Raising Children with Deen and Dunya.

MISCELLANEOUS RECOMMENDATIONS

As far as seerah literature for the young is concerned, I have found that Leila Azzam’s “Life of the Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him]” adequately fits all of my family’s needs.

A summary of Martin Ling’s excellent adult version of the Prophet’s biography, this book is often used to teach university students, so one can rest assured that it is written with an eye for proper grammar and punctuation, something sadly missing in many of our children’s Islamic textbooks today.

Parents of younger kids need not worry that the material might be too sophisticated for their little ones; my friend was able to use this same book to teach my preschool-aged son and his friends about the Prophet (peace be upon him)”.

One can only imagine my delight when my five-year-old repeatedly turned to me in the middle of my adult seerah class at the mosque to excitedly tug on my arm and whisper, “Hey, I know about Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) saying ‘Ahad, ahad’!… Mama, I learned about Buraq in my class!… Guess what? Auntie just taught us about Ghar-e-Thawr today!”

On the topic of Islamic media, it is my pleasure to introduce readers to a relatively new nasheed artist on the scene known as “Talib al-Habib”. His beautiful nasheed, “Songs of Innocence”, never fails to bring tears to my eyes.

The lyrics of that one song contain all of the advice any parent would want to pass on to his/her child, speaking to the hearts of mothers and fathers everywhere, a beautiful summation of all of our hopes and desires for our children.

I was recently reviewing some of the basic points of aqeedah (Islamic creed) with my children, encouraging them to memorize a list of points, when they suddenly began singing the words to Talib al-Habib’s “iman: Articles of Faith”.

I realized then that I didn’t need to teach them anything on that subject; they had already unwittingly memorized the articles of faith set to a sweetly melodic tune. I know I speak on behalf of all parents when I emphasize how rewarding it is to discover so-called “entertainment” which ends up being an instrument for instruction as well.

COPYRIGHT HINA KHAN-MUKHTAR 2009. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

References

Drs. Ekram and Mohamed Rida Beshir. Answers to Frequently Asked Questions on Parenting (Part 1). Beltsville: Amana Publications, 2005. Page 66.

Raising Children with Deen and Dunya by Hina Khan-Mukhtar

About Suzana Nabil Saad
Suzana Nabil Saad is the Ask About Islam Editor. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from the Faculty of Languages, Ain Shams University, Egypt. She obtained her Master’s Degree of Arts in English Literature from Gothenburg University, Sweden. She currently resides in Colorado, USA with her husband, and two kids. When she is not writing, she enjoys reading, ideally followed by nature excursions.