Our lives as Muslims are made up of acts that Islam requires of us. Many of these acts have become so normal to us that they are habits that we don’t even think twice about. Every time you enter a place with your right foot, eat with your right hand, greeted a person first, or made a dua before stepping out of your house, you are doing an act that Islam has subconsciously built in you.
For all of us, these acts are what we want to pass on to our children as they grow up as Muslims. We want them to know how to pray, make different types of dua, and be socially responsible people who exhibit Islamic values. All of these that we desire for our children can only take root when we consciously foster the right Islamic values in them.
Children imitate what they see in their environment and this is a good thing especially when you are trying to teach and foster Islamic values. In this post, I share with you three pillars that we should always hold on to when we are fostering Islamic values in children.
These three pillars are: Teach. Model. Remind
Fostering Islamic Values by Teaching
We teach our children nearly everything they know. Even when we are not directly teaching them, we are putting them in environments that teach them one thing or another. When we want to foster Islamic values, we should literally teach the children these values. Children will pick up some values simply by watching you, but for the most part, you have to teach them what is expected of them.
For example, many children instinctively grab the cutlery with their left hand, but as a Muslim parent, you redirect them to the right hand, and when they are old enough, you *properly explain why they should eat with their right hand.
*I put properly because sometimes, some parents look for the easy way out when teaching their kids. So, instead of explaining the reasoning behind an instruction they gave the child, they simply say “do XYZ because I said so”
Think of all the values that are encouraged by Islam, and that you will like to foster in your child, then teach them to your child as age-appropriate as possible. Teach them to give the salaam whenever they meet anyone, to make the dua when they or someone else sneezes, to make the dua when they are leaving or entering the house, etc.
By Modelling the Values
There is a phrase that people say and it goes something like “do as I say, not do as I do”. I don’t know if this is a common phrase or a Nigerian-speak, but it basically translates to telling someone to do as they are instructed by you, but not to copy your behaviour. This is a mantra that you cannot afford to have as a Muslim parent.
You want your child to do a certain thing, they need to see you doing it first, or at least see you striving towards same. You can’t tell a child to pray their five daily salats when they hardly see you pray. Yeah, you can order them to pray even when you don’t pray yourself, but what do you think the outcome of that will be? Either the child complies and prays while waiting for the day that they will have the freedom to not pray like you, or they refuse to pray, pointing out to you that you don’t pray either.
Whatever Islamic behaviour or values we want to foster in our children, they need to see us doing it first. Not only will we be a source of motivation for them, but we will also be putting our money where our mouths are and showing them that indeed what we are pointing them towards is good for us too.
By Reminding the Child
Children are prone to forget even the most normalised of behaviours. They can become demotivated to do things that they already know that they should be doing. Both your 7-year-old and your 18-year-old understand the importance of salah but don’t be surprised if on some days they struggle to wake up for fajr. It happens to even the adults.
Our duty as parents is not to scold, but to remind. Not to be harsh on children and threaten fire and brimstone or smack them, but to gently remind them of the beauty of the ibaadah we do as Muslims, of the rewards that have been promised to us when we perform our worship, practice certain behaviours and habits.
Living our lives according to Islamic values is a continuous cycle that never ends as long as a Muslim is alive. This is why we should hold on to these three pillars of teaching, modelling and reminding in our journey to raise children who embody the values of Islam.