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Islamizing the taleem ….. – 24 (How to behave with children?)

9 Nov

(The writing that follows is my dialogue through email with a group on the Topic: Islamizing the Taleem and Tarbiyah of our children. I am maintaining the email format for ease of understanding as well as for maintaining originality of this dialogue.)

(In answer to a sister’s queries)
Assalamu Alaikum sister,

I do feel your anxiety and pray that may Allah subhana wa ta’ala guide us all in this very important task of our lives – the task of educating our children correctly. In other words to make them avail the best of this life as well as a’akhira (next life). That is what should be the objective of an education system from Islamic perspective. Also please note that when I talk of education, it is not school education only. It is the whole art or science of educating young generations. And as you say it is very important at young age when we are putting the personality building blocks together. Because it is tarbiah (training) at young age that counts a lot in the rest of one’s life.

I very sincerely believe that we do not have to overdo and be in anxiety or over-worry in the education of our children. Education has to be very natural. As our Prophet (sallal la hu alaihe wassallam) said a child is born on fitrah (natural inclination). Interestingly this was also pointed out by John Holt. The education has to be natural. And this was the case a few centuries back with not only Muslims but also by all the other nations. Since the education has been made very complicated now, we keep on worrying too much about it and as a result over-stress and overburden our children unnecessarily and unwisely. This is quite damaging to a child’s personality and natural growth.

Mind that education does not come from reading text books, rather the best way of education is ourselves being role models of what we want to teach our children. This is also called becoming murabbi (teacher of right disposition). A murabbi is the one who has internalized what he is teaching and shows genuine concern for the ones he is teaching. This is showing unconditional love and concern. Not hooking your love and appreciation to the result of performance from a child. This is very important.

Secondly sister, a child only starts looking to the outside world at the age of six or seven. Before that it is mostly engrossed or concentrating in her/his self. The hadith (saying of the Holy Prophet) that start telling your children for establishing salah (namaz) at age seven and be assure implementation by the age of 10 yrs; indicates that even Prophet (PBUH) realized same. So we should be easy on the children at young age. At the age of infancy a child is mostly learning by looking at his close relatives. We should not expose him to or give him wrong and harmful learning materials. And we should demonstrate ourselves what we want the children to learn. Take things easy with them; you can make him, you can break him, you can easily spoil her or him with wrong actions. But very important aspect to keep in our minds is that a child is a self learner. It has a very good appetite or hunger for learning, but s/he learns by her/his self. We do not have to push him at all, I will repeat ‘at all’, to learn.

Another very important aspect is to show our respect towards our young children. Even at a very, very early age a child possesses very strong ego or self respect. So we should respect this faculty in young children and behave with them in a manner as we behave with grown-ups where respecting is concerned. This a child enjoys a lot and it makes him very stable in his personality. If you ask me what is a child, I will say that he is exactly like a grown up with only lack of experience of this worldly life and not knowing our ways of communication. These a child learns fast, but by the time he learns this, we have already damaged his Ego or self respect and shaken his confidence to a great extent. It is like dumbing them down. Sister respect is a child’s right, I believe, most of us will fail in this aspect in the day of judgment. We have to be very careful. Insha’Allah we will discuss on this a lot in the course of our discussions.

Please do not worry too much about your young children’s learning and be very natural Muslim to them. Enjoy them and love them unconditionally. And take interest in observing how they learn and behave, this teaches you a lot. A very interesting experience with my granddaughter of 18 months that I will like to share with you. Normally we give her long spoon to eat her cereals. Tried to impress her to catch the long handle near the spoon but she will not agree, push our hands away, and catches the spoon as we do at the farther end. As a result she was not able to land the spoon in her mouth and spill most of the cereal outside on her cheeks. Then somehow one day she got a spoon with shorter handle, and she could land the spoon directly in her mouth and the whole cereal went into her mouth with no spillage. The next instant she put the spoon down and started clapping to celebrate her success. Amazing! There is so much for us to learn in this one episode: urge for self learning and success; rejoicing at own success; not accepting grown-ups interference; and most of all the self-respect.

Br. Abid