One thing we all hope for are pious children, especially ones who will make dua'a for us once we're gone. But getting to that point can seem like a daunting task and trying to incorporate the teachings of Islam can seem a bit boring, especially for those of us who were taught in ways that involve a lot of sitting and reading. The last thing we want to do is turn our children off from learning the deen.
In pursuit of finding more engaging "Islam for kids" ideas, I've compiled a list of 9 ways to incorporate Islam into your child's life. These are certainly not the only ways that you can engage your children in Islam. If you have anything to add, please feel free to leave a comment below.
#1 Set a good example
This is kind of a given, but certainly must me mentioned. Children will only imitate what they see and hear during the day. If they are only watching TV, reading non-Islamic/Islamic related books, or playing non-Islamic apps and games, then you're not really doing all you can do to expose them to what you would like them to learn.
That doesn't mean that you only have to have Islamic apps and videos, but a nice mix of both will keep some balance in your lives.
Also, self-reflect on what you're doing, how you're talking and reacting, what you're reading, etc. Children pick up on everything, whether we would like them to or not, so work on changing the way you react when you're upset or things don't go your way. Replace:
- "Wow!" or "Oh man!" with "Subhanallah"
- "Good job!" with "Allahu Akbar" or "Mashallah"
- "Oh well" with "Mashallah"
- "Thank you!" with "Jazakallah"
- "Wonderful!" or "Excellent!" with "Alhamdulillah"
#2 Have them join you
Going along with what has been previously mentioned, let your children see you pray. Ask them if they'd like to pray with you. If they say no, don't force them. The goal is to let them see how you incorporate Islam and being a Muslim into your daily life so that they can, inshaAllah, immolate that when they are older.
Engage them, even if they don't want to actually pray with you, by asking them one or two questions such as, "Oh, the sun has set, I'm going to pray salaatul-Maghrib. Do you know many Raka'ah there are? Do I recite aloud or to myself?"
If you're going to make wudu, why not make wudu in a place where your child can see you do it, like the kitchen sink. You could also put a wudu cling in the bathroom and encourage your child to look at it. The combination of watching you and the reminder of the wudu cling will encourage your child to make wudu on their own.
If you're giving sadaqah to a person or at the masjid, why not ask your child to be the one to give it and explain why you're giving it. Keep the explanation short, as kids have a short attention span, but be ready to answer any follow-up questions, especially if you're giving to someone who is homeless.
#3 Use mealtimes
Mealtimes should be a time for family to not only eat together, but talk about what's been going on in your day and in your lives. Try to keep cell phones, tablets, and computers away from the table and try to be present with your child and/or family.
Little Islamic lessons can be taught while going about your meal, such as teaching your child to eat with their right hand can eventually extend to discussions about "Why do you think we should eat with our right hand and not our left?"
An Islamic activity placemat like this one has tons of activities that your child can do while they're waiting for the food to be served or after they're finished eating and they're waiting to be excused from the table. It can also be used as discussion points, especially the trivia section.
And if you're working on the basics, such as saying Bismillah before eating, saying Alhamdulillah after eating, eating with your right hand, etc, the other side of the placemat is perfect.
#4 Teach about loving Allah
Learn the names of Allah and teach it to your child by showing them Allah's attributes in action. For example:
- If you are tackling a particularly difficult task, you can teach your child that Allah is Al-Fat-taah (The Remover of Difficulties) and let your child see how you make dua'a to Him through your difficulty. Later on when your child is tackling his or her own difficult task, even something seemingly simple as building a lego tower that just isn't going the way he or she wants it to go, remind him or her of how Allah is Al-Fat-taah and encourage her to make dua'a for help. Alternatively, you can remind him or her about Allah's attribute and then make dua'a for assistance and have him or her simply say "Ameen."
- When a new baby is coming into the world, you can use that opportunity to teach your child that Allah is Al-Muhay (The Giver of Life) and show him or her all of the amazing things that come along with pregnancy or a new baby being born.
#5 Use outside resources
Remember that you're not alone when it comes to wanting the best for your child. There are tons of Islamic games, songs, videos, and DVDs that you can use to teach your child. A simple search in youtube will bring up many, and inshaAllah I'm working on a list of books, videos, and songs that will help when teaching your child Islam.
For now, here's a list of favorites in our home:
#6 Books! Books! Books!
In an age where it seems like books may fade away (I truly doubt they will ever be completely replaced), books feel so much more important. And in 2016, there are not only tons of Islamic books for kids, but also non-Islamic books that feature characters with Muslim names. This, I believe, helps children to more easily relate to the characters, especially since the characters are also Muslim (or at least have Muslim names). I'll work on getting an official list together of both Islamic books and non-islamic books inshaAllah.
#7 Make Islamic storytime fun
When teaching your children the stories of the prophets, it may help to know the story yourself before teaching them. Then retell the story in your own words, making it as exciting, interesting, and engaging as you can be.
This technique works incredibly well for bedtime stories, especially teamed with the phrase "close your eyes and imagine the pictures." Haha! I hope you see where I'm going with this.
#8 Play the Qur'aan
I'm not going to bash anyone who listens to music or tell you that you shouldn't. But consider playing Qur'aan for an hour or so, while cooking or cleaning or while your child is playing a quiet game such as playing legos. Let it play in the background so that you and your child can absorb, learn, and enjoy.
My parents used to play the Qur'aan every Friday morning while we got ready for school and had breakfast and it was one of the things that helped me to memorize it as I heard the Imaam in my head reciting the verses as I officially learned them later on in life.
#9 Do arts and crafts
With the invention of Pinterest, it's increasingly easier to share Islamic arts and crafts to help make learning Islam more fun and engaging. Follow our board and others that have ideas that you like and create your own board with all the ideas that you like. It's easy to reference it later on when you're looking for something more creative to do in your day.
As you can see, a lot of what will help you incorporate Islam into your child's life has to do with you incorporating Islam into your own life first. If you have any other ideas or suggestion, leave them below. May Allah help us to be successful, Ameen.
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