بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Belief in the oneness of Allah, also called tauheed, is one of the five foundational pillars of the Islamic creed. In order to raise future Muslim adults with a strong, unwavering, and close bond with Allah, parents should try to ingrain the foundation of tauheed into their hearts as soon as they can, i.e. during early childhood.
To know Allah is to love Him. Parents, grandparents, minders, caregivers, relatives, educators, teachers, mentors, and all other adults who contribute towards raising children should talk about Allah in front of them in such a manner that they grow up not just believing staunchly in Him as a deity, but also knowing Him well, by recognizing Him through His names and attributes.
Knowing Allah will allow children to enjoy the sweetness of faith (iman), of worshipping Him without associating any partners with Him, and of connecting closely with Him throughout the day, by the time they hit the threshold of adulthood.
So how do adults go about ingraining tauheed into children’s hearts in such a way that they grow up connecting to Allah during every time period in their lives, good or bad?
The secret lies in helping children ‘connect the dots’ during apparent life events in such a way that they are able to relate everything that happens to Allah, and to their belief in His all-embracing power and control over everything.
Children will usually ask adults various questions when they observe them, or anyone else, performing different acts of worship. Times like these are a good opportunity for adults to ingrain the first lessons about tauheed into children’s minds.
Such questions may include some or all of the following:
- Who is Allah?
- Why do we perform acts of worship?
- Why should we worship only Allah, and no one besides Him?
- Why should we pray salah, fast during Ramadan, perform Hajj, sacrifice animals, recite the Qur’an, and make duas?
- Why were we born, and why do we all eventually die?
- They like to go on an outing (e.g. to the park or the zoo);
- They love to avail an exciting and novel experience (such as a speedboat ride, water park fun, or amusement park thrills);
- They desire a particular toy or object after watching another child possess it, such as a bicycle or a doll house.
The answers to these questions centre on the foundation of tauheed: the existence of one god Who has no partners, and Who created us with one purpose in life: to worship Him, and Him alone, until we die, so that we can achieve success in the hereafter.
Highlighting some, if not all, of Allah’s Divine names and attributes, when describing the purpose of this life to children, will enable them get to know more about Allah as the one and only god worthy of being worshipped through all the acts of worship prescribed in Islam.
Acquisition of Blessings
Children always love receiving blessings that make them happy, such as edible treats, toys, gifts, playthings, books, games, and clothes. They also like being taken on exciting outings and excursions, such as camping trips and picnics.
As parents, we should endeavour to educate them about the source of all these blessings; else they grow up falsely believing that provision comes to them from the creation (their parents and other elders), instead of the Creator.
Most parents indulge their children, and wish to see them live a happy, blessing-filled life. Because of this desire, they try to shower their children with as many good things as they possibly can, and consequently, children often harbour and express their desire to acquire nice, new, tangible things and life experiences, for instance:
When your children come to you, and ask you for something that they covet, refrain from giving them a flat answer of ‘yes’ or ‘no’, or explaining to them why it isn’t possible to buy that thing for them at that point. Instead, parents and other adults can use these opportunities to instruct them about Allah being the sole provider and the source of all provision.
Children should also be taught to first ask Allah directly for everything that they want. For example, a child can be told, “If you want something, ask Allah for it first, before coming to your parents. This is because Allah provides you with everything that you have, even the love that you get from your parents and other people. He has the sole power to give you everything and withhold from you everything, whether big or small. He also has the power to decree the exact, specific time at which He gives you something.”
“So, even if we have said ‘No’ to buying you such-and-such thing, you can continue asking Allah for it if you still want it, especially after your every salah. This is because if He so wishes, He can change your parents’ hearts, and make us buy you the thing that we initially refused. He can also give it to you a few months from now, when He deems it best for you to have it; never tire of asking Him, and never wonder, ‘Why didn’t He listen to my dua?’”
Training children this way – to turn to Allah first with sincere duas whenever they are seeking any blessings, and to humble themselves before Him with gratitude whenever they have received something that they coveted – will strengthen their belief that only Allah has the power to bring benefit, provide sustenance, and grant wishes. This is one of the principles of tauheed.
However, do remember to keep these afore-described doses of verbal, pedagogical monologue brief and infrequent, in lieu of children’s simple minds and short attention spans.
In Part 2 of this blog, we will look at more practical ways to ingrain the concept of tauheed in children.
© IIPH 2014