بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
By Zahra Anjum
It is sad to see that a large part of the Ummah is writhing in pain. Hearing about the suffering of the Muslims worldwide, we wonder how we can play a part to aid them. Surely, the Muslim world does not lack skilled professionals. If we all live as an Ummah, for the Ummah, many of our problems can go away.
The next generation growing in our laps is the hope for tomorrow. As a long-term plan for the problems faced by the Ummah, let us give our children a superior vision. Let us teach them to live for a higher purpose: not solely for their personal goals, or even for the goals of a particular community or country, but for the whole Muslim family.
Dr. Aisha Utz writes in Nurturing Eeman in Children: “Children should be taught the importance of brotherhood and sisterhood between Muslims and a sense of belonging to the Muslim community. They should read and know about Muslims in other lands who are suffering and need our care and assistance. As part of one body we should feel joy when other Muslims are joyous and sadness when others are sad.”
Below are some practical tips for raising our kids as ‘Ummah-centered’ individuals.
1. Connect to the past: Our Ummah is a continuation of a glorious caravan with countless notable personalities to learn from, including scholars, leaders, commanders and scientists. Acquaint yourself with Islamic history, and relate it to your children. Learn from the problems that occurred in the past, the people who struggled, the mistakes, and the solutions. In light of the past, sketch a pathway for the future. Seerah should be read as a study circle in homes to develop a strong bond with the earlier Islamic civilizations.
2. Strengthen the concept of one body: We, along with our children, should be the personification of the well-known hadith of the Prophet (sa): “The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy are just like one body. When one of the limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Discuss hadiths and Quranic verses that explain the concept of Muslim brotherhood. Tell your children the stories of the Sahabah; how the tribes of Aws and al-Khazraj, who were terrible fighters prior to Islam, became like brothers. Narrate to them the incident at the time the Muslims from Makkah emigrated to Madinah, when the Messenger (sa) declared that each Muhajir from Makkah was to have a brother from the Ansar of Madinah, and this bond of brotherhood would be one of unconditional love and sacrifice for one another.
3. Teaching to help: On a small scale, teach kids to care for and share their things with siblings and those who come to visit. Especially teach them to help and share with those less privileged.
Visit places like orphanages, squatter settlements, and charity hospitals together and explain how the destitute have a right upon us too. Encourage your children to keep up with the news, and what is happening around the Muslim world. Think about ways you and your children can help those in need. For example, pack some extra clothes or other things that are wanted and send them in charity, make a Sadaqah box, pray for those who are suffering, learn the Qunoot an nawaazil (the dua of Qunoot made at times of calamity), etc.
4. Walk the talk: Children do not follow our words; they follow our actions. If parents are concerned about the affairs of Muslims near and far, this will naturally pass on to the children.
5. No one should get hurt by you: Nurture kindness and love in your children by first being kind and gentle to them. Read together the following hadith of the Prophet (sa) and its meaning: “A Muslim is he from whose hand and tongue the Muslims are safe.” (Sahih Muslim)
This is the character that we should encourage and instil in our children in their everyday lives. For example, if you see your child making fun of someone, share with them the feelings of the other person and make them stand in the other person’s shoes. Teach them to think about others, be kind to them, love for others what they love for themselves, and give dawah to someone if they are wrong.
6. Ummah-centered geography: Put up a big world map in your home and impart some lessons of geography rooted in the Ummah concept (be sure to make it interesting, especially if they are already studying geography at school!). Search libraries and the internet together to learn about Muslims in different parts of the world. Explore how Islam reached the area and the present condition of Muslims. Read about their culture, lifestyle, problems, and practices.
Also point to significant places, and relate the important events that took place over there. For e.g., when discussing Uzbekistan point out to Bukhara as the birth place of the famous hadith scholar Imam Bukhari. Collect interesting pictures and facts about the mosque of Qurtuba (Cordoba) in Spain and the palaces of Alhambra. The story of the downfall of the Muslims over there can accompany as a history lesson. There is a lot that may be done!
If all that our children are interested in are their games, gadgets, clothing, and accessories, then from where can we expect the future leaders of the Ummah to arise from? We need to set lofty goals for ourselves and not act as a silent, carefree audience; the Ummah needs US.
© IIPH 2014
(No copyright infringement intended, image taken from www.flickr.com)