The subject of my discussion is about the need to bring up our child Islamically, to prioritize this and do everything in your power as a parent and community member to inspire true Islamic understanding and faith in our young people. I would like to give some examples of what is happening today that highlights the extreme immediacy of this need and how important it is for all of us to begin making changes. Lastly, I would like to give some practical suggestions on how to do this, to achieve our aim of bringing good leaders of this Ummah, who are well educated in both secular and Islamic education in order to balance the life of this world and the hereafter.
At one time I thought that every parent would have the goal of raising his or her child Islamically, but now, through experience, I really have to wonder. I don’t think some parents want to raise their child Islamically. They believe that if their child has basic knowledge and practice, that’s enough. That Islam and Islamic education should be in the background while other things, such as being a doctor, enjoying the good life with a big house, car, good job is more important for their child in the future. Sending their children to Madrasah to them is wastage of time; they think those who attend Madrasah are inferiors or helpless, which is not true at all.
There is something extremely wrong with this. I’ll tell you why. How narrow-minded is it if a parent prepares their child for this life and does nothing for their child’s hereafter. If a parent really, really loves their child and wants the best for them, their goal first and foremost will be to raise the best Muslim they can. This is the best you can ever do for your child, in this life and in the hereafter, which is eternal. If your child is a good Muslim and knows Islam, they will want to do well in everything they do. They will want to attain knowledge, security, help those around them and become good people. They will avoid so many harms and difficulties in this society.
Islam and Islamic education will never hold back your child from anything good. It will only enhance whatever they do.
Let me give some examples of what happens when Islam and Islamic is not the first priority in families. In college and secondary schools right now, you find the most amazing things. I have met Muslims raised their whole lives in Muslim families who don’t pray, who date, who attend MSA meetings but go out to parties and clubs and drink, who take drugs. Every single thing you can think of that is the opposite, contrast to Islam; our young people are doing them. It is to the point where you can’t tell the difference between them and a non-Muslim.
Why is this happening? These are not great cases. These are ordinary Muslims who were raised without Islam and Islamic education as their priority. They were taught, intentionally or unconsciously, that Islam was cultural and secondary. They were taught Islam blindly and do not understand it and are lost.
We should be concerned, if not alarmed. Do not sign this off and say, “It won’t happen to me, it won’t happen to my kids.” Do not live in a fool’s paradise and say “Oh ma’shallah my son or daughter is an honors student, they would never do anything bad.” It can and it will and is happening now.
But it’s not too late for your kids, the young generation we have today.
We need to raise them with Islam and with being good & well educated Muslims in both secular and Islamic education as the priority, the number1 goal as a parent and community.
So, how can we do this? I would like to give just some simple, positive, practical things we should all be doing.
(1) Get involved as a parent or community member. Take an interest in what goes on at Madrasah/mosque, in their class, help with homework, help them memorize, discuss Islamic issues with them, ask questions, answer their questions. Do not expect the teachers/Shaikhs to do everything. You, as parents, have the responsibility to give your child an Islamic education. How much can we teach 2 hours a week? We can only help. How many parents have volunteered at the Islamic school? Have said, “How can I help my child’s Islamic education at the Mosque/Madrasah?” How many single people have volunteered to teach or help out at the Mosque/Madrassah.
(2) Create Islamic alternatives. Your kids should never think Islam is boring or dogmatic. It is a complete way of life, which is good and fun. Parents should help organize camps, festivals, fun days, sports, and Islamic movie days for them.
(3) Buy Islamic books. How many of us have Islamic kid’s books, tapes, games or videos at home? If you don’t, buy some. Buy excellent quality fun educational materials for Muslim kids. Why buy your kids (Sikusinja ndi Gwenembe) book when you can buy an Islamic coloring book. We should take advantage of this to create more of an Islamic culture for our kids.
(4) Send your kids to Islamic camps, conferences and conventions (Jalasa). How many of you take vacations to Salima, Mangochi, Mulanje or somewhere? How many of you send your kids to basketball/football camps? Why not go to Islamic Information bureau together as a family or send your kids to get together where they can meet other Muslim kids from all over?
(5) Eliminate the cultural baggage. Cultural baggage are all those things that parents have been raised with which are not part of Islam but are part of their culture. Separate what is your culture from what is Islam. Cultural aspects only seem confusing, hypocritical and unreasonable to young people. Get rid of them now or else your children will connect them with Islam.
(6) Use the resources of this community. There are many experienced parents, teachers, and Imams in our community that can help you if you are having problems with your child. Alhamdulillah now Islamic Information bureaus are almost every corner in the country (Malawi) They can help you if you are not sure how to incorporate Islamic education for your kids or don’t understand its importance. You know how your child says “But everyone else’s parents are letting them do it”. Now you can ask other parents if they are working with them to help solve any problems now. Do not wait until it gets out of control, when the child is 15 and refuses to listen to anyone.
(7) Teach understanding, not blind ritual. We can’t keep teaching our children things without explaining why they should do them or what they mean. How many of your kids say Surah Fatiha in prayer and have no idea what it means. Has no idea what they are saying in prayer at all? This is so wrong. Saying you have to pray and here is how to is not enough. Islam turns into blind ritual for them and they won’t be able to transfer Islamic principles or practice to their daily lives.
Lastly and maybe most important, be a good Muslim. You must be a good, practicing, active Muslim for your child to be one. If you have little knowledge about Islam your child will have less. If Islam isn’t a priority for you, it will not be for your child. If you are not continuously learning about Islam, your child will not be either. We should not forget that it’s our responsibility to bring up our children Islamically, and that we shall be asked about this responsibility on the day of judgment. May Allah grant us with knowledge and understanding. Aameen.