Thursday 12 June 2008

Praying with Children

Last year I was watching a call-in programme on the Islam Channel, where you could call in and ask a scholar a question. A woman called in to ask for advice regarding her children who would disturb her during prayer. The scholar indicated that she has brought them up poorly and there must be something wrong with them. That was it, no advice, no sympathy, just judgement, and ignorant judgement at that. I was fuming at this response.

Why does Allah rain so much hassanah (reward) on mothers? Why is care of the home and children our Jihad? Because it’s tough. Praying with small children is not easy. Imagine as a mother taking your full attention away from your child and trying to direct it towards Allah (SWT) only. It’s near to impossible.

Anas (RA) narrated that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him and his house) said, "I start the prayers, intending to lengthen them. I then hear a child crying so I make them shorter, knowing how emotional a child’s mother gets." (Bukhari and Muslim)

Nope, nothing there about being a bad mother, just a sympathetic acknowledgement of the difficulty a crying child presents to a mother. I’ve continuously struggled with my prayers throughout the time I have been a mother, not just the dividing of attention, but exhaustion, lack of time and the children playing up have all been factors. When Little Lady was 18 months I put her in her cot to pray taraweeh prayer, she managed to get the metal knob off of my bed and throw it at me. She caught me square on my spine. I spent the next few months cringing as I prayed in case she found something else to practice her aim. Little Man used to try and get at my toiletries whilst I prayed, as soon as I said salaam he would disappear, this too went on for months. Now he sits by my side waiting for me to finish so he can get in my lap whilst I make dua – this is the serenest I ever feel. Gorgeous tries to stand on me when I sit in prayer, or climb in my lap and hug me or make sujood (prostration) in front of me. It’s very hard for children to accept that their mother could turn her full attention away from them.

I find the thing that helps me most is routine. Getting them to bed early so I can pray Maghrib and Isha in peace. Getting them to nap in the afternoon so that I can pray the Zoher prayer is another option.

I also keep reminding them each time: "you mustn’t walk in front of mum when she prays", "you mustn’t talk to me when I pray". Eventually the message gets through and you find that the older ones discourage the younger ones from disturbing you.

Little Man and Little Lady also have mini prayer mats and I try to get them to copy me whilst I pray, sometimes this works, sometimes not.

If all else fails and I need peace to concentrate, I shut the door and warn them not to come in for the next 10 minutes. By the end of it, I’m usually calm enough to let them in and deal with them more kindly.

In the end though as a mother of young children you end up accepting that not all of your prayer’s will be as you want them. As always with pleasing Allah, the essence is in the struggle. Allah (SWT) sees our effort and perseverance despite frustration and rewards us for it. One of my Aunt’s use to see me pray and say "it must be hard, I remember when my kids were little how discouraged I would get because I couldn’t pray properly – but then these are the prayers with the most reward" I thought I could detect a wistfulness.


  1. Anonymous12 June, 2008

    Assalaamu Aleikhum

    The image of your little boy sitting by your side waiting for you to finish so he can get into your lap while you make dua is beautiful in its mirroring of what we all want at times; to climb with the surety of a child into the lap of the Beloved and rest secure in the embrace of divine Love.

    Thank-you for sharing this and yourself so generously on your blog.

  2. Anonymous13 June, 2008

    Salaam Alaikum,

    Ah the Islamic Q and A on the Islam channel is a real mixed bag. Some of the advice given... well Allahu Alim.

    Also I gnash my teeth at how many times people have to be told to turn their televison's sound down when they are on air.

  3. Walaikam-assalam,
    Sister Rose,
    what a beautiful analogy, you've put an enormous smile on my face with that lovely thought.

    Sister Safiya,
    Yep, I agree, a mixed bag, sometimes you get a sensible answer, sometimes you think huh? They also seem mega strict in general.

    Oh you'd think pople would know to turn the sound down - maybe they just want to hear themselves on the telly.

  4. Assalamu alaykum, subhan'Allah sis! I do agree, I do also feel that as mums we are not given our rights..I do feel so sad about the condition of our Ummah. Nowdays you cannot take the kids nowhere including Mosques, talks, gathering, Islamic colleges etc all because some people decides that kids should stay at home and don't disturb others, if they do is the mother fault! Allah Akbar! It's such a pity!

  5. Assalam-alaikam dear Sis Muslimah,
    I know exactly what you are saying. My Aunty is doing an alimah's course and she says many of the sisters attend with small children, they are always getting told off by one or two of the other ladies. They don't seem to understand how hard it is for someone with a very small child to try and study for a very tough course. They forget that where there are women, there will be children and that these women should not be excluded from opportunities to better their deen.

  6. For me as one who never prayed I am now trying hard to learn the prayers myself. Then there is the challenge of really trying to introduce a tween to prayer.

  7. Assalam-alaikam to all

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  8. Anonymous02 June, 2013

    It was very encourging to read that there are mother's who struggle however still balance their homes,kids & still able to be steadfast in their in prayers.I was not very Islamic & with a lot of struggle changed my habits about 3 years ago however after the borth of my son I have just not been able to manage home,kids,a full time job & most unfortunate was that my efforts which i had put towards being steadfast in my prayers took a beating.May Allah forgive us for our sins & pull us on the right track.Ameen

  9. such beautiful guidline for mothers how to care and educate your kids even though thay are being working women.May Allah forgive our sins and put us on the righ path.

  10. Thanks for sharing nice article. It will really help many of us. May Allah bless us with His guidance and help us to spend our lives according to the teachings of Quran and Sunnah. Thanks for sharing

  11. thank you so much for this article. I have been looking on google about this very topic. I converted and I have now 3 children my oldest is now turning 4 my second 2 1/2 and 3rd is almost 2 months old. It is so very hard for me to do the five prayers.It is hard enough as a convert learning and trying to just do something your not used to doing then when you have really young kids that rarely ever go by the schedule I try to make makes it impossible at times it seems. I have tried putting my two oldest in their room to play and of course they scream for me or constantly fight during that time and my youngest constantly wants to be fed which I am breastfeeding or he will cry and carry on as well. I wish this was talked about more.

  12. Assalaamu alaykum sister. True, people can be a bit harsh these days on children, but if we follow the example of our prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) we can't go wrong as the two following ahadith illustrate:

    "The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) came out to us for one of the two later prayers, [Zuhr or 'Asr,] carrying Hasan or Husain. The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) then came to the front and put him down [next to his right foot], said takbeer for the prayer and commenced praying. During the prayer, he performed a very long prostration, so I raised my head [from among the people], and there was the child, on the back of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), who was in prostration. I then returned to my prostration. When the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) had offered the prayer, the people said, 'O Messenger of Allaah! In the middle of [this] your prayer, you performed a prostration and lengthened it so much that we thought either something had happened, or that you were receiving revelation!' He said, Neither of those was the case: actually, my son made me his mount, so I did not want to hurry him until he had satisfied his wish "128

    In another hadeeth, "He (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) was praying. When he performed sajdah, al-Hasan and al-Husain jumped onto his back. When the people tried to stop them, he gestured to them to leave the two alone. After offering his prayer, he placed them in his lap and said, Whoever loves me should love these two."