By Zahra Anjum
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
The children were all playing with their toys when a little girl came to her grandmother, carrying some toys in her shirt. She asked in a tensed voice: “Who should I give my toys to for safekeeping? I fear they will be lost. The trustworthy one (Al-Ameen) Prophet Muhammad (sa) is no longer amongst us.”
A four-year-old was bouncing on the sofa top. “Mother, I am riding my horse, and I am going to Madinah,” he said.
“Masha’Allah!” she exclaimed.
“But I’m not going to the Madinah that is today. I’m going back in time to meet the Prophet (sa),” he added happily.
These are true incidents from the lives of children who are yet to grow in their love for the Prophet (sa) and show it in their practice. However, it is apparent that their parents have tried to instill the seed of love from a very early age.
Parents and especially mothers certainly play a strong role in connecting and disconnecting their children to different people. The first thing that we need to build in our children is a connection with Allah and His Messenger (sa), i.e. faith. With a little effort, this is not difficult. Before expecting them to become practicing Muslims and good humans we must lay a deep foundation of faith in their hearts. This is how the Companions of the Prophet (sa) were brought up.
Jundub bin Abdullah (ra) narrates: “We were with the Prophet (sa), and we were strong youths; so we learned faith before we learned the Qur’an. Then we learned the Qur’an and our faith increased thereby.” (Ibn Majah; authentic)
Following are some tips to help develop the love of Prophet Muhammad (sa) in our children:
Enrich your own bond
First, strive to enrich your own bond with the Prophet (sa). If your vessel of love is brimming, it will no doubt overflow towards your children. It will reflect in your words and actions. Children learn best what they see you doing. If they see you reading about his life, applying the Sunnah, and making decisions based on his love, they will know that it is something important.
Make him a part of daily conversations
How do you introduce your children to their grandparents if they live far? You mention them often, you praise them, you tell interesting things about them, you relate their stories, and so on. In a similar fashion, talk about the Prophet (sa) in your everyday conversations with zeal and enthusiasm. Talk about things that children can relate to and which matches their interest.
For instance, tell them about how he loved children, played with them, and was very kind to them. Read out his physical features and try to imagine what he was like. If your kids love vehicles, talk about the vehicles of the Prophet (sa) and find out the names of his camels and horses. If they are interested in sports, talk about the sports he played and encouraged. If they are playing with toys, tell them about the toy horse of Aishah (rah). Also, tell them how hard the Prophet (sa) worked so that you could know about Allah and Jannah (paradise).
Practice simple Sunnahs
Along with the emotional connection, tell them why and how we must follow him to reach Jannah. He was our guide and teacher and taught us the ways loved by Allah. Children love to fantasize! Relate to them the beauty of the spring of Kawthar, a spring from which the Prophet (sa) will offer a drink to those who obey him. Tell them he’ll be happy to meet you in Jannah and to know that you were a practicing Ummati. Practice together the simple sunnahs of Friday, eating, sleeping and so on, and compliment your children: “Masha’Allah you are doing this like the Prophet (sa) did!”
Do age-appropriate Seerah-related activities with your children. For example:
- Make lap books about the different aspects of his life.
- Make a colorful timeline of his life and put it up.
- A very engaging activity can be to write hadiths on little pieces of paper and put them in an envelope to be taken out every week. Tell them these are the messages left for them by the Prophet (sa) and discuss them.
- Teens and pre-teens can write essays or stories on topics like ‘A day with Prophet Muhammad (sa)’, ‘My meeting with the Prophet (sa) in Jannah’ or ‘A letter for Prophet Muhammad (sa)’.
- Do a map activity by marking all the places where Prophet Muhammad (sa) travelled to.
Read about him
Read books of Seerah to your children, as a family as well as individually. For younger ones, the stories can be retold in simple words that they can understand. For example, when children are afraid of something, relate stories of the bravery of the Prophet (sa) and his trust in Allah.
Also, you may share audio lectures and videos related to Seerah with the children.
Enroll your children in Islamic classes and gatherings appropriate for their age group. For teenagers especially, this is one of the best ways to help develop the love and zeal for Islam and to connect them with the life and mission of the Prophet (sa). In case there is none in your locality, invite your children’s friends and arrange a small class.
Supplicate for your children and teach them the following dua to gain the love of the Prophet (sa):
اللهم إني أسألك حبك، وحب من يحبك، والعمل الذي يبلغني حبك، اللهم اجعل حبك أحب إلى من نفسي، وأهلي، ومن الماء البارد
O Allah! I ask You for Your Love, the love of those who love You, and deeds which will cause me to attain Your Love. O Allah! Make Your Love dearer to me than myself, my family, and the cold water. (Tirmidhi; reliable but odd)
Zahra Anjum is a freelance writer, editor and translator based in Islamabad, Pakistan.
© IIPH 2015