Monday 18 February 2008

How to Raise Good Muslims?

I am coming to realise that I am facing one of the biggest challenges I will ever meet. I have always found progress very easy in my academic and working life and have enjoyed the feeling of sailing through these spheres most of the time. This leads a person to the feeling, especially when you are young, that you are the bee’s knees and oh-so-clever - Kooky Little Sis and Fasionista Sister take note.

Having children puts that whole mindset into perspective. They run rings around you. They ask questions you cannot possibly answer. They knock a hole through your little pre-children day dream of little angels who start learning Al-Quran at five and complete hifz at 10, who manage to complete an Alim’s course by 15 and then go straight to University to become a Doctor or whatever happens to catch your fancy.

In reality I am finding that even raising a good human being and a good Muslim is an enormous and scary challenge: teaching Al-Quran, giving a child good tarbiyyah, teaching them to love Allah (SWT) and His Prophet (SAW), encouraging good and honest behaviour. That’s just as a Muslim. As parents we have the usual ambitions for our children to achieve academically and in their careers and lives. Where to start?

I find that the best place to begin is with yourself – you want your children to be good? Behave well yourself, be conscious of what you say and do – oh and how you earn. I’ve come across religious people who have never worked and raised their children on state handouts whose children are tearaways and people who are not so religious but raise their children with money earned through real hard work, whose children have turned out to be good Muslims.

I believe in praying Salah as if it is a part of life, like eating, drinking and sleeping. We make sure that no-one in our house neglects it and I hope when the time comes our children will engage in it naturally.

Little Lady has started on Al-Quran and Little Man has caught on with Kalimah Tayyibah which is a start, although I am finding it very difficult to get him to repeat anything – he just grins at me as if I am a fool. I guess I will have to learn as I teach them, just enough to stay one step ahead. In this it seems that my children have become my teachers in a way.

Learning to recite and memorising Al-Quran is part of every Muslim child’s training, but what of Tarbiyyah? I find that this is the time when gaps in my own knowledge become apparent and lapses in my own behaviour can have serious consequences (No-one can work out where Little Man has learnt that naughty word which he just will not stop repeating). I can only teach what I know and so have had to return to the books: Translation of Al-Quran, Stories of the Prophets, Lives of the Sahabah and books like Bukhari (thanks Kooky Little Sis), Riyadh-us-Saliheen and Fazail-e-Amaal. This may sound like I am engaged in some great studies but to be honest I barely get a few moments to pick these up between work, prayers, children and home.

This is one of my greatest worries, that I use the time I have in the best way for my children and not leave things too late, that I keep putting it off because I am tired, or have to cook or because we have reading homework from school to do. At the same time I have to try and avoid panicking – “so-an-so’s child is five and has already finished Quran and memorised 20 surah’s” and go at a pace that benefits my children.

Any good ideas about correct up-bringing and teaching children from other sisters, teachers, mothers and anyone else who knows what works are very welcome.

One thing that seemed to work for a friend was a daily reminder to her children at bedtime that “Allah is with you, he can see you and hear you, he takes care of you”. She soon found that her children would own up to things they had done. When asked why, her seven-year old daughter declared that “even if you can’t see me, Allah will know what I did.”

As for academia and careers and life in general, I have come to the conclusion that I will leave that to my children to guide me; that we are born with a purpose and their hearts, their faith and their trust in Allah will guide them and that it is for me to help them pay heed to those instincts.


  1. The bees-knees, huh? I guess that is equvialent to the cat's meow? or the big cheese? I'm going to get a lot of mileage out of your expression, since it's not something I've ever heard on this side of the pond!

    And where are my manners? As'salamu alaykum sister. Very good post today. As a soon-to-be mama inshaallah, I am petrified by the notion that I am responsible for rasing a good muslim child. I don't even know where to begin. My common sense tells me to always remember that I will be his example inshaallah (as well as my husband, alhamdulillah for him). I suspect but hate to assume, that when he is born inshaallah, nature will take over and my role will become increasingly more clear as each day passes.

    I will be reading your blog regularly for tips and advice, since mashaallah you are already a Happy Muslim Mama of three!

    May Allah make this path easier and rewarding for all parents, Ameen.

    Where do you get your islamic books for your children???

    Ma Salaama!


  2. Assalamu - alaykum,
    thanks for your comment.
    Yup bees knees is like the big cheese, but maybe better.

    Mashallah, Allah keep you and your little one safe and well inshallah. I am finding that the main things essential to good tarbiyyah are the parents example and I also think, taking care that the child is being brought up on the proceeds of a strictly halal income.

    We have a big Islamic bookshop ( a few minutes from my house and many others near by, but I find that the children are more receptive to what you tell them in your own words if you put enough enthusiasm and passion into what you are saying. Plus its cheaper.

  3. Salaams sister,

    Its the first time I stumbled across your site and found it quite refreshing to read.
    I love your posts and being a mother of 3 Masha-Allah, I found it quite encouraging in more ways than one.
    May Allah reward you for all your efforts and give us all the strength to bring up our children the way Allah SWA wishes us to.
    Umm Aisha

  4. Walaykam-assalam,
    Thank you Umm Aisha for your comments and encouragement.
    And Ameen.

  5. As Salaamu Alaikum Sis:

    Aw, give Little Man a break (smile). He'll get it in his own time. Just making the learning fun. It's important at this stage.

    Also, about the kids who know a lot of Quran by age 5 ... perhaps their parents are native speakers of Arabic? You must admit that it gives them a head start.

  6. Aslamu alakum sister
    humm this ones close to my heart to if we dont question this aspect of our parenting we are not perhaps the best parents. its a big jungle out there where survial of the fitest is the norm. When i first became muslim i had a lot of bad traits and language to shead , swearing was a part of my vocabulary as a cockney East Londoner , need i say more. It was one day when we was visiting inlaws in Paris and she was around i can't remeber but over 16moths and she was playing with the uncle and she says ................and alhamduillah they was french speaking so they never got it and it was not to clear but any English speaker would get the gist , i was so shocked inside, i felt guilt and horror , that my lil child has learnt this word and is using it happily, thing is i tink i was using it in anger. That was it for me i made a stand and i changed that aspect of my life there on alhamduilah. i supose what i am trying to say is we are all earning and all developing , there is no maunual of parenting , at times i wish there was , mine are 13yrs, 9yrs and 6yrs and it does not get any easier , i often say bring back those days of nappies and winding, did we think them hard? just you wait lol. Kids will learn by example , role models , its important to let them be around good ones. Alhamduillah as muslims our model is the best model Muhamad salhualhi wasalam. Belive me kids will learn so much about manners and ettiqute from you , so if you pray you children will want to pray ect..... thing is sister when i beacame muslim i wanted to make sure in all act of ibbadah that my kids knew why they are doing it ! For the the love of Allah not as a mundane routine or coz if i don't dad will smack me ect , they need t understand why in order to love Allah and their deen. i ma not saying its easy no! its a rocky road ahead but while in your care and under your roof you are accountable before Allah. I tell them what the point to learn all this quran ,, yet not understand it ? like this we are in danger of lip service of the quran and it will have no impact on our hearts. I pray allah give you hikmah and khier fi dunniyah wal akriah ameen.

  7. miss-oh-so-clever??
    i resent that!

  8. Masha'Allaah, it seems like your doing a good job. I agree it is hard and worrying trying to raise up our children, we want to instill the best morals and manners in them, and help them along the way of building up their eemaan,and awareness of Allaah.
    I cannot stress enough how important it is to raise them upon Tawheed(oneness of Allaah) and to remind them to turn to Allaah in times of need, and in times of ease. This is the foundation, and needs to be firmly in their hearts insha Allaah.
    My kids sometimes like to do an islamic quiz, so maybe things that we've read or spoken about, can be turned into a question,they get points for each correct answer, this is a fun way of helping them learn about Islam.
    Also you could do a chart to track their progress of learning the Qur'an, they get a star for each surah they memorise, it's good then to also review regularly for ourselves and our children, what we have learnt, as it is easy for us to forget.
    We have to try our best,and make alot of du'a that they will grow up righteous and god fearing, ameen.

  9. Assalam Alaikum!

    I am so delighted to meet you. Thanks for sharing these thoughts...raising good Muslims is an enormous challenge, and it is a relief to know that other mothers feel the pressure too!

    I think, in addition to what you said, it's important to monitor the TV. My 6-year-old daughter only watched kids' channels but picked up a lot of unwanted stuff. Thanks to Mickey and Minnie Mouses, she went through a phase of giving us (her parents) lingering romantic kisses. Later, from Kids Next Door, Jimmy Neutron, Danny Phantom, etc., she imbibed the classic American teen attitude problem.

    We are shifting from TV to carefully selected DVDs, but how do you keep a child productively entertained in these times? My daughter needs a playmate, but her brother is too young (8 months), the neighbors' kids use too many naughty words, school friends live too far away to meet day to day.

    I consider my children my top priority, but work and housework make urgent demands and it's impossible to be available enough. We're steering her towards reading, but what else could she do by herself?

    MashaAllaah you seem to be balanced in the way you handle your time. How do you do it?


  10. Mashallah nice tips! May Allah make it easy for all of us to raise good muslims Aameen

  11. Mashallah nice tips! May Allah make it easy for all of us to raise good muslims Aameen