Alhamdulillah, all grace to Allah for letting us breath for another day to cleanse and perfect our deeds in His world. Alhamdulillah for allowing inspiration to me to share my ever so little knowledge compared to His wisdoms. Insya Allah I hoped that as little as it is, some benefit would reach you all. ^^
31st March 2012, I was given an opportunity to give a tazkirah in conjunction with the celebration of Maulidur Rasul. The content of my tazkirah was "The role of muslims parent in Islamic education of a child". It covers on why we are given the role with association to the role of our prophets and why to the young children, where do a parent start to educate their children, what is the best way to reach their child and the importance behind these teaching especially in terms of aqidah enforcement, insya Allah.
1. The role
Brothers and sisters! We all was taught about the role of all of our prophets, sent by Allah to guide mankind. Each prophet was sent to their people and Rasullah s.a.w our beloved and last of the prophets was sent to guide the whole mankind. They guide men to worship Allah, the One God. It has been stated by Allah and Rasullah s.a.w, that Rasullah is the final prophet sent to mankind and there will be no other after him. So the question is, who will guide mankind after his passing? Al-Quran and as-Sunnah is our guide, and as the final ummah, the job of spreading the Words of Allah has befallen on our shoulder. Yes! Our shoulder. It is our job to ensure the continuity of the teachings of Islam, insya Allah. That is why as a Muslim parent, teaching the young ones is one of the many obligation of spreading His words. And it is also considered a form of dakwah. Dakwah is compulsory for all Muslims, for Allah has stated:
"Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, and reason with them in the better way. Lo! thy Lord is Best Aware of him who strayeth from His way, and He is best aware of those who go aright. an-Nahl(125)
And there Allah has said, call unto the way of your Lord (Allah). Call which means to ask them to follow or to tell or to preach to them simply of the way of Allah. And He even mentions, do it with wisdom and fair exhortation (hikmah), which will be delve deeper later.
Allah has also stated that the reason of our creation is to be a khalifah ( a leader on Earth). Khalifah which also means to lead, in all different parts of life:
"Behold thy Lord said to the angels: "I will create a vicegerent on earth." al-Baqarah (30)
Vicegerent in that ayat refers to a deputy or a an administrative appointed by a Ruler. We are the administrators of Allah, insya Allah!
Thus, after much emphasizing on why we have this role to preach, let's move on to why specifically to preach to young child.
2. Emphasizing Islamic education to the young ones
Children. Whatever the people around them do, they'll mimics it. The younger they are, the easier they are to be influenced by the environment. Even in scientific field, young children has the fastest rate of development. They are curious, experimental, thirsty of answers about things around them, and they are definitely very receptive to new knowledge. That is why, the best time to start educating your child on the concept of Islam, is since they are young. Even as young as in the womb!
It is also attributed to the fact that they revolve around their parents when they are young (before entering schools). Once they enter school, their attention are divided and their understanding are influenced partly by their peers. That is why it is important to groom them with the knowledge when they are still within the compound of parents influences and to also prepare them to face different perspectives of life once they started schooling. It is also important that parents have the knowledge when their children ask questions and not just simply wave them away, answers are very important for them!
3. Where do you start?
We now know why we have to educate them and when. Now where do you start? Do you start with rules and regulations in Islam? Or do you start with stories about the prophets (sirah)? Or do you start with doa's? I'd love to give an analogy on this:
Whenever we buy something, a product, we will always try to know the creator of the product, say, like a famous painting, we want to know the painter (the creator) in order to understand the painting. Or a musical piece, we want to know the composer, in order to get what he's trying to tell from his piece. Same goes to Islam. The first step to educate your child is by introducing them to their Creator! Yes, as simple as that, introduce them to Allah, who creates us all. When we know, we will understand, when we love Him, we will follow Him! So the step is to teach akidah first, that Allah is our Creator, He is God, the Only One, and the Mightiest. Teach them on the characters of Allah,The Most Compassionate, The Ever Forgiving, The Ever Watching, The Wisest. Let them know the magnificence of Allah, and eventually love Allah. Once that they have this strong foundation of faith and love for Allah, everything else will come easily, insya Allah!
4. How do you tell them?
Leadership by exemplary,like Rasullah s.a.w, he always showed the best character of a muslim that always attract people into Islam. A parent is a role model to their children, thus whatever you do in front your child, show it in the best manner, in the Islam way. When you eat, include your child to say gratefulness to Allah, who has given food on the table. When you solat, tell your child, its a form of gratitude and worship to Allah for giving us life. Incorporate everything of Islam in your life and include your children in it, insya Allah they will follow. Relate daily things in life to Allah, such as the creation of complex thing: the sky, the moon, the star, it is impossible for us to create them, so definitely, it is created by a magnificent creator, Allah. Simple daily things can be related easily to Allah and understood by the child. They will ask a lot of questions and this is a good opportunity to ensure their full understanding by providing good answers, and if you don't know, find the answer and tell to your child, never leave them unanswered. Example of association that can provide answers on Islamic issues are Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia and IIS (Islamic Information and Services), insya Allah.
5. The importance of akidah
Lately, Muslim society are facing tremendous pressure on our faith by the media, such as the news, movies, dramas, Facebook anti-muslim/atheist group and cultural influences by the West. It is so easy to see how some drama depicts misinformation on Islam (tangkal,bomoh,etc2), fairies that have powers, these are all influential to the mind of young child, especially when young ones are actively involved with the world technology lately. Thus, a strong foundation on akidah is very important to maintain their faith, not to associate Allah with anything, and to understand fully that only Allah is Powerful. With an emphasize on akidah, kids know the importance of God the One concept and with the love to their Creator, knows that they don't want to do wrong to Allah,insya Allah.
May this writing help a little bit, insya Allah. Forgive me for any misconduct of words, and any opinion are warmly welcomed. Wallahu'alam.