TEACHING CHILDREN TO LOVE SALAAH
The first of his actions for which a servant of Almighty Allah (Subhaanahu Wa
Ta'aalaa), the Most High, will be held accountable on the Day of Qiyaamah
(Resurrection) will be his Salaah (Prayers). If a believer’s Salaah is sound,
then all his deeds will be sound, but if it is lacking, then all his deeds will
Salaah is the first act of worship that was made obligatory by Allah (Subhaanahu
Wa Ta'aalaa), the Most High. It is one of the five pillars of Islam and
essential to one’s faith. With the world at our feet, it’s becoming more
difficult for parents to keep their children grounded and instill in them
knowledge and love for Islamic obligations.
Because of its extreme importance to a Muslim, Salaah should be one of the first
acts of worship that parents should teach their children.
Hadhrat Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-Aas narrated that the Prophet Hadhrat Muhammad
(SallAllaahu Alaihe WaSallam) said: “Command your children to make Salaah when
they become seven years old and spank them for it (Salaah) when they become nine
years old, and separate their beds (to sleep).” (Abu Daawood)
Salaah is such a great form of Ibaadah (Worship), a child must be exposed to the
beauty of Salaah from a young age even when he doesn’t understand it. Many
parents are under the impression that children should begin learning how to
perform Salaah at the age of seven. But informal instruction in Salaah should
begin much before, when they are visually aware of what takes place around them.
It is only human nature that children love to imitate their parents. In fact,
this is one method that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa), the Most High, has
provided us for teaching our youth. Here are some strategies,common Muslims
shared, to get their children acquainted with Salaah from a young age.
Zaheera wrote: “My strategy is encouraging them by way of example from a very
young age, getting them a smaller Musallaa (Prayer Mat), beside me when I had to
offer my Salaah. I always tell my sons that every time (they) offer Salaah,
Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa), the Most High, fills (their) treasure box with
all the things that (they) love and on the day of Qiyaamah, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa
Ta'aalaa) will present [it] to(them). Now and again, I remind them how big their
treasure boxes are. With positive reinforcement the love for Salaah will enter
“Leading by example is the best way but to make it easier, I made a “Salaah
Book” and introduced 3 Salaah first…like Zuhr, ‘Asr andMaghrib. Making the child
tick and one parent sign weekly, this at the beginning and later I introduced
‘Eshaa and Fajr and eventually it became a habit. Loads of encouragement, rather
than fear is very important,” wrote Mumtaz.
Faatimah also said that leading by example was the first strategy and getting
them their own Musallaa and Burqahs (Veil) was the second. “Third is to allow
them to make Du’aa (Supplication) out aloud and allow them to ask for whatever
they want. It’s where they learnt that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa) is the
only “Provider”. And now that my children are a bit older, I encourage them to
offer Salaah in their own rooms on occasion so that they learn it’s part of
“their own” routine and space instead of mummy’s and papa’s only.”
“I think it’s about the child watching their parent doing the things we want to
teach them. The child’s first teacher is the parent he/she spends the most time
with,” wrote ‘Aaliyah.
Some parents said when a child watches a parent offering Salaah they become
curious and that opens the doors to explain and teach the Ahaadeeth at a level
the child can understand. Another said parents performing Salaah in front of
their kids taught them that it was necessary and part of life’s routine, “just
Mu’allimah Sa’diyah agreed with these methods but said the very first step would
be teaching a child how to perform Wudhoo (Muslim-specific Ablution) and that it
was obligatory to wash in order to perform Salaah. “Teach them how to make
Wudhoo then they look forward to perform Salaah, so this makes them feel like
they’re washing their hands, feet and face for a purpose. Get them into a
routine of Wudhoo first.”
The best way to implement a habit into a child is to make him constantly do it.
Another good way of instilling the habit of Salaah in a child is to perform the
Salaah with them.
“The best way to encourage kids to offer Salaah is by reading the virtues of
Salaah to them according to their level of understanding. Relate to them a lot
of incidents of Salaah. Like the story of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani. That, with
Salaah everything will be possible. Talk to them about the obedience of Allah (Subhaanahu
Wa Ta'aalaa), the fear of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa), the concept of Allah (Subhaanahu
Wa Ta'aalaa)’s consciousness and offer Salaah with them, even when they get
older, in their adolescent years.”
Children must not just be taught how to offer Salaah and that it is obligatory,
but they feel an inner urge tooffer it and not just do it out of habit. This is
without doubt, the one thing that will ensure consistency even when parents are
not watching over them.
Parents’ Du’aas are also very important. Muhammad Hameed suggested that they
recite the following Du’aa as quoted in Holy Quraan:
رَبِّ ٱجۡعَلۡنِي مُقِيمَ ٱلصَّلَوٰةِ وَمِن ذُرِّيَّتِيۚ
رَبَّنَا وَتَقَبَّلۡ دُعَآءِ (40)
“My Lord, make me steadfast in Salaah, and my offspring as well. And, Our Lord!
Grant my Du’aa (Supplications).” (Ibrahim 14:40)
This Du’aa can be begged regularly, at any time of making Dua and after the
Fardh (Obligatory) Salaah, Mu’allimah Sa’diyah also said.
Other ways of encouraging children are to let them perform Salah in
Jamaa’ah(Congregation), making one of them the imam. This is also a good way to
help them develop a steady pace for Salaah. Direct them towards Salaah at times
of need and difficulty. By showing them that the only way to achieve and
overcome things is through Salaah, you emphasize its importance. If kids miss
their Salaah when they get older, parents should get them to perform the Qadhaa
of the missed Salaah as soon as possible like an immediate remedy of a heavy
loss. This way they realize that they will have to perform it later on anyway.
Mu’allimah Sa’diyah stressed that parents should never shout at their children
to offer Salaah but it should be done softly and gently, especially when waking
kids up for Fajr Salaah. “Shouting a child creates resentment – you create anger
in that child towards you and instead of looking forward to Salaah, they dislike
Parents shouldn’t become despondent in reminding, advising and disciplining,
even if their children neglect their Salaah repeatedly, and they shouldn’t
despair of their children being rightly guided.