In the previous parts of the series on parenting lessons from Surah Luqman, we talked about the essential prerequisites of parenting (Part 1), how to teach our children to avoid shirk (Part 2); being obedient and grateful to Allah and our parents (Part 3); and instilling consciousness of Allah in children (Part 4).
This part of the series focuses on two more pieces of advice that Luqman left his son with: establishing prayer and patience.
Make Your Children Love Salah
A long time ago, there lived a wise man. His name was Luqman . One day he told his son:
“O my son, establish prayer…” [Qur’an: Chapter 31, Verse 17]
How many times do you remember your parents saying the same?
Salah is the second pillar of Islam. It is an obligatory act for all Muslims and unlike the other four pillars, there is no exemption from it. Why do you think that is the case? Salah is the wire that connects us to Allah .
All the previous advice of Luqman was centered around teaching his son how to build the connection. Salah is the act of switching on the button for the current to flow once the wires are all in place.
So what happens once the connections are in place and the flow of energy ebbs through the wires? It forms a wall around the believer that stops him/her from committing any bad deeds.
Allah says in Surah Al-Ankabut:
“Recite, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you of the Book and establish prayer. Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing, and the remembrance of Allah is greater. And Allah knows that which you do.” [Qur’an: Chapter 29, Verse 45]
Just as we make sure that our children are properly protected to go out in the cold, we need to make sure that they are protected from the traps of Shaytan before they venture out in this world.
Here are some practical tips to help your child love and establish regular salah:
1. Make dua for your kids to love salah
Ibrahim knew the importance of salah in our lives. He begged Allah to not only help him in establishing prayer, but also his descendants who will come later. Allah loved his dua so much that He recorded it for us in the Qur’an, so that you and I can ask Allah through the same words to make us and our descendants among those who establish salah.
“My Lord, make me an establisher of prayer, and [many] from my descendants. Our Lord, and accept my supplication.” [Qur’an: Chapter 14, Verse 40].
2. Make salah an important part of your life
Time and time again, I have realized that no matter how much I plan my parenting goals, my major focus for the traits and habits that I want my children to develop are the ones that I focus on in my life. For example, the days on which I recite more Qur’an, I make sure that my children also don’t miss or skip it. So, it is very important to understand and acknowledge the necessity of salah in our own daily lives to explain it to our children. You forbid your child with determination to not play with matchsticks because you know with certainty the danger of fire. This “determination” is also what is required to help your children understand the importance of salah in their lives.
3. Teach your kids the duas for salah
Games, quizzes, and bedtime routines are great ways to teach our children the necessary duas for salah, preferably before they reach 7 years. This eases the progression to praying by themselves.
4. Invite your kids to pray with you
Invite your children to pray salah with you. Salah is a beautiful aspect of our religion. And also a major area of concern for Shaytan. Invitation without coercion stands a greater chance of making the children fall in love with salah. Telling them that salah is a time that we spend in the presence of Allah , talking to Him and sharing our feelings with Him encourages them to pray. Letting them know that Allah answers back to us when we recite Surah Fatiha in salah, making them choose their hijabs, caps and prayer mats encourages the children to pray. Taking them to the mosque and making them stand with you in congregation to pray also helps in teaching them the basic actions in salah.
5. Start with one salah and then progress to the next one
First focus on getting your child to pray salah for one time properly, before moving on to the next one. For instance, my daughter loves to pray Isha, the night prayer, as she feels that she can stay awake longer! She was pretty disappointed when the time moved to 6 pm in winters!
6. Establish a reward system
Children love gifts. Allah rewards us for salah, so we should follow suit and reward our kids when they start praying! Praising them, giving them extra points, and throwing a party for them when they establish a routine for salah all work to motivate them to pray regularly.
The family that prays together, may Allah make them enter Jannah together. I recently heard a sister say that she tells her children when they seem reluctant to pray, that if In sha Allah they pray together, maybe Allah will make them enter Jannah together. SubhanAllah! This is such a beautiful vision. The father can lead the prayer and sometimes, the teenage sons can take over as imam.
Give Your Child the Gift of Patience
Interestingly, salah also teaches patience. That is why Luqman , the wise, continued to advise his son to:
“…enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong, and be patient over what befalls you. Indeed, [all] that is of the matters [requiring] determination.” [Qur’an: Chapter 31, Verse 17]
Allah also says in the Qur’an:
“And seek help through patience and prayer…” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 45]
Such is life, full of ups and downs and roadblocks, for everyone. We all have to navigate these to reach our destination, Jannah.
These bumps cannot be successfully crossed over without Allah’s help and an attitude of patience and determination.
Patience is an abstract concept that can only be instilled in ourselves and our children through consistent practice. Just as the verse quoted above says, patience is also a very difficult trait to master – but it is a tremendous trait to have. Here’s how you can start developing patience in your children:
1. Start with dua
Amongst Allah’s greatest gifts to us is the duas that he teaches us in the Qu’ran for our benefit and growth. Here’s a beautiful Qur’anic dua to help inculcate patience:
“Our Lord, pour upon us patience and plant firmly our feet and give us victory over the disbelieving people.” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 250]
Recite it yourself regularly and teach it to your children.
2. Be patient yourself
Sounds like a repeated cliché? But it always works! Exhibit patience in traffic jams or long queues. If you’re going through a tough phase in your life, be patient and engage in more prayer. This practical example that you provide to your children is priceless and always the best way to teach them what you want them to learn.
3. Delay instant gratification
As parents, we want to fulfill each and every wish of our children. That satisfied and happy look in their eyes warms our hearts and sometimes that nagging and whining for some thing they want is too much to bear! But we need to be “patient” in order to teach them patience. Even if you have that candy in the pantry, don’t give it to them immediately. Ask them to wait and when they don’t want to, tell them that Allah loves the “patient”.
Stay calm if they throw a fit and don’t change your stance – soon enough they’ll get tired and stop, and will realize that a little waiting is the best way to get what they want.
4. Motivate and reward them when they learn new things
When your child is trying to pick up a new skill like reading, drawing or reciting the Qur’an; or when they are attempting to do a new task like helping you with cleaning the house or solving a difficult math problem; teach them to be patient as they struggle with it by praising their progress and motivating them to keep going. This gives them the confidence to continue and stops them from becoming impatient and giving up too early. Keep cheering them on even if they’re making mistakes and when they finally do grasp that new task or skill, reward them with a grand hug or a small gift, and remind them how their patience with it got them to accomplish it!
Prayer is the energy that ebbs through the connection between Allah and His slaves. It keeps us strong to go through this journey of life to reach our home, Jannah, in sha Allah; and patience is that friend whose sole desire is to lead us to Allah and our beautiful home in Jannah.
I leave you with the words of Allah to ponder upon:
This is the pristine guidance of our Lord for ourselves and our children: to seek Him in prayer and through patience whenever we need help; knowing with certainty that if we do so, He is definitely by our side.
How successful were your approaches in getting your children to establish salah and developing their patience? Go ahead and comment below to share your ideas with other readers!