In Part 1 of this series on parenting lessons from Surah Luqman, we touched upon the essential prerequisites that we need to fulfill ourselves to be positive, wonderful parents throughout our journey of parenthood.
This part focuses on the first advice of Luqman to his son: avoiding shirk (not associating anything with Allah ). The two fundamental and critical attributes of tawheed (oneness of Allah ) and iman (faith) are very important for one to be able to stay away from shirk effectively.
Why is Avoiding Shirk the First Lesson in Surah Luqman?
“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” [Qur’an: Chapter:51: Verse 56]
Allah also says in the Qur’an:
“Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin.” [Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 48]
Associating anything with Allah is called shirk and is the foremost of the major sins. Luqman in his great wisdom understood the seriousness of this issue because of which the very first advice he gave to his son was:
Your children might ask you: but why is shirk the greatest of sins?
Allah is the One who created everything and He alone is the Master of it all. He is Omnipresent, All Powerful and the All Knowing. By associating partners to Him or by asking anyone except Him for help, we are denying Him the respect and love that is His due.
He loves and cares for us, plans things to benefit us the most, yet we sometimes fall for the tricks of Shaitan and deny His foremost right upon us: that of worshiping Him alone. If we fail at this most basic level of giving Allah His rightful respect and love, then how futile are our acts of worship! Thus avoiding shirk, by way of getting our little ones to really grasp these concepts has to be the first thing that we must work on.
Every child has a fitrah (innate tendency) in his heart to believe in tawheed (the oneness of Allah ) and to develop iman in Allah . The seed has already been sown. We, as parents, now have to nurture and nourish this seed so it grows into a tree that can withstand the forces of fitnah (trials) that try to lure our children into committing shirk.
Aqeedah (firm belief), tawheed and iman are all necessary to stop ourselves and our children from falling into shirk. So what are they?
First let’s quickly understand ‘aqeedah’: it stems from the root word ‘aqd’ in Arabic, which means to tie. It means a certain and firm belief.
As Allah says in the Quran:
The Messenger has believed in what was revealed to him from his Lord, and [so have] the believers. All of them have believed in Allah and His angels and His books and His messengers, [saying], “We make no distinction between any of His messengers.” And they say, “We hear and we obey. [We seek] Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the [final] destination.” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 285]
Tawheed is to believe in the Oneness of Allah : that He is the One and Only God.
The Messenger of Allah proclaimed the tawheed for the first 13 years of his prophethood, as is evident from the themes of the surahs revealed in Makkah. Tawheed was the foremost message of all the Prophets and Messengers sent by Allah to us, the mankind.
There are three components to tawheed:
- Al Ruboobiyah (Belief in the Divine Lordship): Believing that Allah is the only One Who creates, gives life and death.
- Al Uloohiyyah (Belief in the Divine nature): Believing that Allah is the only One to whom the people should devote their words and actions, both inward and outward, so no one is to be worshipped but Him.
- Al Asma-a was-Sifat (Belief in the names and attributes of Allah): Affirming what Allah has affirmed for Himself of His names and attributes, and denying any attributes that Allah has said are not His, without denying any of His attributes or likening any of His attributes to the attributes of any of His creation.
Iman means faith, and it stems from a person’s strong aqeedah.
It has six facets. The Prophet said:
“It (iman) is that you believe in Allah and His angels and His Books and His Messengers and in the Last Day, and in fate (qadr), both in its good and in its evil aspects.” [40 Hadith of Nawawi, Muslim]
So how do we teach these values to our children? Rather than like a course study, it is important to remember to focus primarily on teaching the spirit and principle of what we have learnt above.
Our children might not know the three kinds of tawheed, but we must focus on the fact that they need to understand and believe in what they mean.
For example, they might not know what Uloohiyyah is, but we must work to ensure that they direct all their worship only to Allah . They should know His names and call upon Him using them, but might not know that it forms the third part of Tawheed.
The prophets of Allah always made it a point to remind their children about Him as is evident from this statement of Ya’qub :
“And thus will your Lord choose you and teach you the interpretation of narratives and complete His favor upon you and upon the family of Jacob, as He completed it upon your fathers before, Abraham and Isaac. Indeed, your Lord is Knowing and Wise.” [Qur’an: Chapter 12,Verse: 6]
Ya’qub said this to his son Yusuf when he came to tell him about the dream he had in which he saw stars, the moon and the sun prostrating to him.
Steps to Instill Tawheed and Iman in Children
Without knowledge, iman cannot increase, and without iman, there tends to be no motivation to seek knowledge. Let us delve a little deeper into how we can increase our children’s knowledge and understanding of tawheed which will help them avoid shirk. This is what Luqman began with when advising his son.
- Begin with the adhan: When a child is born, the first sound he hears should be of the adhan. Call the child to the worship of Allah , as that is the only way to success in this world and the Hereafter, because indeed it is to Allah that we belong and to Him is our return.
- An Islamic sleep routine: Recite Surah Al-Mulk to the child to put her or him to sleep. I highly recommend the recitation by Sheikh Mishary. Instead of fairy tales, tell your children stories from the Qur’an of prophets, angels, as well as the incidents from the Seerah and the companions of the Messenger . There are many books from publications such as Goodword on Qur’anic stories and the life of the Prophet .
- Look and reflect upon the creation: Tell your child about the miracles in nature, its beauty and grace. Draw the attention of your child to the skies and the sun, moon, stars. This will help your child appreciate the magnificence of our Lord and how everything has indeed been made for our comfort. Like the stars that light up the night sky are also used for charting journeys across the seas, the rays of the sun help the plants cook food for themselves, how the bees work hard all their lives to make honey for us, and how Allah blessed us with milk that is so important to keep our bones strong; He has Himself laid a lot of importance on reflection upon His creation.
- Consistent Remembrance and Mention of Allah and His messengers: Talk to your child about Allah and how kind He is and how much He loves us all. When a new toy comes, tell the child Allah gave to him as He loves him. Tell stories of the Messenger of Allah and his grandsons and the companions when they were little. This will help in developing love for Allah and His messengers and an emotional bond will be formed between the child and Allah , In sha Allah.
Help your child memorise a variety of things over a period of time, such as:
These will help the child make a habit of constantly remembering Allah . This takes time and a bit of planing; but a goal list, consistency and using videos and other resources such as kids.farhathashmi.com will help your child, In sha Allah.
- Encourage Good Deeds: Explain to your child that good deeds will be rewarded. Let your child give charity by using the donation box in the Masjid. Encourage your children to part with toys that they do not play with to the needy children, while telling them about what Allah says about charity.
- Ask Allah Alone, Call Upon Him Using His Names:
Say, “Call upon Allah or call upon the Most Merciful. Whichever [name] you call – to Him belong the best names.” And do not recite [too] loudly in your prayer or [too] quietly but seek between that an [intermediate] way. [Qur’an: Chapter 17, Verse 110]
Teach your child about the names of Allah and what each of them really mean and how they apply in our lives. For instance, we can instill the notion of only ever asking Allah for anything that we ever want. If a child wants ice cream, have a lively chat about making dua for it, as it is Allah , Ar Razzaq (the one who gives Rizq) who actually gives it to us. You can play the nasheeds of Allah’s names in your car or at home as children learn very quickly from these.
I hope all the above information and tips on avoiding shirk have helped you equip yourself as a parent with what you need to instill this fundamentally important attribute in yourself as well as your little ones, inshaAllah. We will meet again with the next part of this series which will cover the topic of how we can instill gratitude in children, and love and care for their parents.
Read the other parts of this series: Part 1