Friday, February 26, 2010

The Art of Building Believers, pt. 1

Assalam alaikum,

There are so many areas of our children's development that need our attention: academic, physical, social, etc. But the most important area, and conversely the one least discussed, is their spiritual development. To quote Pierre Teilhard, "We are not physical beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a physical experience". If we ignore this essential aspect of our children's psyches, we run the risk that this innate spirituality will be submerged by the materialism that has overrun modern culture. As a parent, with all the love, respect, and attachment that Allah has naturally created in your child's heart for his/her Mother and Father, you are the best person to nurture and inspire his/her faith; it is not enough to rely on your child's Quran teacher or other remote religious figure.

Where to begin then? From the tremendous religious heritage of Islam, where should a parent start? Some may start at Wudhu and Salat, or reading the Quran, or perhaps the Golden Rule. While those are all essential and must be addressed, why not start at the crux of the matter? Why not start with the reason for their existence? "I have not created the Jinn and Mankind except to worship me" is what our Creator informed us. Ingrain into your children from the very beginning that their lives have immense value and purpose, that it should not be wasted on self-indulgence. While play, material gain, and socializing all have their place in our lives, our greatest fulfillment and joy comes from knowing our Creator and devoting ourselves to Him. Get your child started on the path to Allah early by discussing with him or her the implications of this ayah, as well as what it means to balance life between play time and prayer time, homework and Quran. What a service you will be doing for your child! What Ihsaan! Imagine your boy or girl intent on self-improvement and advancement, because their minds are clarified by a sense of noble purpose. Recall the story of a young Yahya Ibn Sharaf, who at the age of ten refused to play games with his peers, telling them, "I was not created for this!" This Yahya, after years of nearly superhuman diligence, became the man better known today as Imam An-Nawawi, may Allah have mercy upon him. While not everyone will achieve or even desire that level of dedication, it is a powerful testament to what a sense of purpose can do for a child.

The worship of Allah is not an event limited to specific times or places. It is a lifelong journey that you and your family have already embarked upon. In sha Allah, in future articles, I'll share some more verses from the Quran that lay the foundation for a sincere and beatiful relationship with our Creator. Check back in 2 weeks.

And Allah knows best.


  1. I think its a good intro to the subject. I do want to know more. How would you communicate these thoughts to a young child. When do you start discussing these issues.

  2. That's a great question. I have to deal with a 6 year old with a fever and an earache right now, but I'll try to answer your question as soon as I can.

  3. Imaani, I tried to address your question in this week's article, The Art of Building Believers pt.2. Sorry for the delay, but I thought it would make a good addition to the article.