By Zahra Anjum
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
A father who lived far from home used to write letters to his son. The letters were both educational and silly enough to captivate a five-year-old. They were all about random hobbies and interests of his, and they also directed him to ponder over the creation of Allah by explaining how Allah had created everything, how the food on his plate had reached there, and how every creation of Allah is obedient to Him.
In one of these letters, the father drew some trees and advised his son to ‘cultivate’ his land in Jannah by planting in it through the remembrance of Allah, as mentioned in a hadith:
When Prophet Muhammad (sa) met Ibraheem during his ascension to Paradise, Ibraheem advised him: Command your Ummah to plant the saplings of Paradise plentifully, as the soil of Paradise is fertile and its plain is spacious.
It was asked: What are the saplings of Paradise?
He replied: La hawla wa la quwata illa billah.
(There is no might to resist evil and no power to do good except through Allah.) (Musnad Ahmad; authenticated by Albani)
In the following days, the young boy was seen engaging in the remembrance of Allah, even though in a childlike manner, counting and saying the phrases as he ran from one room to the next. As an adult, I usually forget Dhikr even though it is so doable and find it difficult to utter it regularly. Looking at him, I realized how lucky he was to have the seeds sown in this young age.
While we strive to inculcate many positive habits in our children, why not add the habit of making Dhikr to it? It will be a source of reward for both us and our children and also a refuge for the heart. Below are some tips to help build this habit in our kids, and during the process, in ourselves too.
Be a role model:
Prophet Muhammad (sa) advised his Companion: “Keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah.” (at-Tirmidhi; reliable but odd)
Only when our own vessels are brimming with the love and remembrance of Allah will we be able to pour the same in the hearts of our children. Our everyday conversations, engagements, and reactions are observed and absorbed by our children, and we often catch them repeating our actions. Let us be the role models of this advice of the Prophet (sa) by remembering Allah with simple phrases like Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest), Astaghfirullah (I seek forgiveness from Allah) , and Subhan’Allah (Glory be to Allah) as we go about our daily chores. Children do not hear, they see.
Start from day one:
Do not wait for the child to become ‘old enough’ to teach them the basic everyday Duas for sleeping, eating, travelling, and so on. Start from the day they enter the world by saying the Duas out loud. When nursing and giving food, say Bismillah (In the name of Allah). When leaving the home, recite the Dua loudly so they can hear it too. This way, when something is done continuously and from a tender age, it becomes second nature.
Moreover, the recitation of Duas should not be limited to rote learning and repeating like a parrot. Impart the meaning and essence of these everyday Duas in an age appropriate manner. The goal is not to simply do Dhikr as a task. Rather, it is to remember The One out of love and reverence.
Do not force the children – encourage them. Encourage them through the various hadiths that tell us about the virtues of remembering Allah, for instance, the one about planting trees in Paradise. You can also discuss how the trees of Paradise will be like.
Prophet Muhammad (sa) asked one of his Companions: “Should I not direct you to the words from the treasures of Paradise?” He replied: “Of course!” The Prophet (sa) said: “La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah (There is no might and no power but that of Allah.)” (Muslim)
Children love to read and hear stories about treasures. Tell them about this treasure of Paradise, accompanying a treasure chest craft or colouring activity.
During a visit to the market, point to the balance and tell your children about the balance of the Judgement Day and the phrase which makes it heavy. Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Two expressions are very easy for the tongue to say, but they are very heavy in the balance and are very dear to the Beneficent (Allah). They are: Subhan Allah wa bi hamdihi, Subhan Allah al- Azeem.” (Bukhari)
You can also put up colourful Dua posters in your home as eye catching reminders.
According to their interest and age, map out a Dhikr plan for your children. For instance, saying La hawla wala quwwata illa billah a few times each day. Be careful to include the phrases mentioned in authentic hadiths. Some phrases of remembrance can be found here.
A personal counter:
Teach your children to praise Allah using their fingers. However, in some situations, the counter or prayer bead is handier, especially for kids. Although it is better to count on fingers, the latter is permissible when the intention is not to show off.
To make it special for your kids, gift them a personal counter or make a masbaha (tasbeeh) with beads.
We cannot do anything without the help and mercy of Allah. Ask Allah to make you and your children among those who remember Him often. Prophet Muhammad (sa) has taught a specific Dua for this. He told his companion Mu‘adh ibn Jabal: “Never forget to recite this supplication after every (prescribed) prayer:
اللَّهُمَّ أَعِنِّي عَلَى ذِكْرِكَ وَشُكْرِكَ وَحُسْنِ عِبَادَتِكَ
‘O Allah, help me in remembering You, thanking You, and worshipping You well.’” (Abu Dawood; authentic)
Zahra Anjum is a freelance writer, editor and translator based in Islamabad, Pakistan.
© IIPH 2016