This past week my son has being singing the famous Tala‘ al-Badru ‘Alaynā nasheed (1). Naturally as a parent I am pleased he’s learnt it and runs around the house singing it, rather than singing something else. He was taught it during summer school (2) which he attends like many children on an annual basis. When picking up my kids I find parents having similar conversations with their children: “What did you learn today?”. Parents are pleased to see them learning Prophetic Duas, good morals, stories of Prophets and other excellent etiquettes. But despite all this learning, as children grow up and become teenagers, sadly much of what they were taught is forgotten. Why is this the case? I believe a key factor is that their learning is not a lived reality; it is theory but not practice. The reason why many of us don’t forget how to make wudu, is because it’s a lived reality i.e. we do it often enough not to forget.
Our children are learning great things at these schools, but often times that learning is not cemented in the home. I remember an interesting conversation I had with someone who worked in an Islamic school for over 5 years, and later became central to developing a full Islamic studies curriculum for 11-15 year olds, called iSyllabus for Schools. He told me that he realised through parent’s evenings that those children who prayed in the home, and not just at school, where the children of parents who also prayed in the home, and those who didn’t pray were in homes in which the parents didn’t pray.
Some parents see their duty as financial provision for their children. They try to send them to good schools to give them a good secular education, and a good mosque or Quranic teacher for their Islamic education. What they fail to understand properly is the centrality of their role in the Tarbiyah (3) of their children. Children are often asked by their parents if they have prayed or read Quran that day. However, do they hold themselves to the same standard? Can they expect their children to read or pray when they don’t practice it themselves? Children have a simple outlook on life; they say what is in their heart, they don’t understand political correctness etc. They sense hypocrisy a mile off. There is no getting away from it, if we want pious children we need to become pious ourselves. If we want them to be honest, we must show them a real life example of honest people; ourselves.
Many of us send our children to great places to learn great things, and then contradict those teachings through our own behaviour. The Prophet ﷺ said the best thing a father can give his child is good manners (4). How can you teach your child good manners and then show them how to be ill-mannered?
In a few weeks school exam results will be coming out. Like every year around this time young teenagers get nervous as do their parents. Teenagers know if their results are poor parents will not be happy, and many of them will not shy away from expressing their disappointment. What does this teach our children; secular exam results are extremely important. Yet is the same level of disappointment expressed when a child does poorly in an Islamic class, forgets some duas or a portion of the Quran, misses prayers/fasts or lies? So what are we REALLY teaching our children?!
The Prophet ﷺ said:
“Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock.” (5).
During a recent Friday sermon I discussed this topic in greater detail, which can be viewed on the video below.
I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts in the comments section below.
Subscribe to our mailing list and learn from over 10 years of Shaykh Amer Jami's insights on marriage, family, and social issues that concern the Muslim community.