By Ruhaifa Adil
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
“The most beautiful names belong to Him (Allah).”
(Surah Al-Hashr, verse 24)
Asma ul-Husna, made up of the word asma, the plural for ‘name’, and husna, meaning beautiful or most beautiful, means ‘Allah’s most beautiful names’. These names have been taught to Muslims through the Quran and Sunnah and are of great importance because they teach us to recognize our Lord – who He is and what qualities He has; to understand His mercy and His anger; to know what to expect from Him and how to call upon Him when we are in need. These names tell us who He exactly is and hence help us to worship Him better because it is not possible to worship what is unknown.
Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Allah has ninety-nine names, that is, one-hundred minus one, and whoever knows them will go to paradise.” (Bukhari)
Knowing the names of Allah does not only mean memorization, but also an understanding of what these names actually mean. We must help our children get acquainted with Allah and realize the connotations behind the names early on. Here are some suggestions on how you can help your children learn and understand the names of Allah:
1- Select 10 names of Allah
Start off by picking 10 names of Allah that you feel are the ones that your child can relate to the most. Pick names that not only describe Allah’s uniqueness such as Al-Ahad (the One), As-Sami (the All-Hearer), Al-Baseer (the All-Seeing One), Al-Khaliq (the Creator), and Ar-Razzaq (the Provider) but also names that teach His attributes that children can try and emulate, such as Ar-Rahman (the Merciful), Al-Ghafoor (the Forgiving One), Al-Aleem (the All-Knowing), Al-Hafeez (The Protector), and As-Saboor (the Patient).
2- Work on each name individually
Pick one name of Allah and work on it for a certain period of time. This could be a week to a month per name depending on the age of the child as well as the depth of the name’s meaning. Buy a good book detailing the meaning of Allah’s names for yourself so that you are able to understand it better yourself before teaching your kids.
3- Teaching by discussion
As you pick each name, discuss with children what the name means. Have open-ended questions ready to get your children thinking and discovering about Allah rather than giving them all the answers. Here are some suggestions
Name of Allah
Possible Points for discussion
|Al-Ahad (the One)||
· Make a family tree. Talk about your own family and other families around you. Discuss the kinds of families animals and birds have. Discuss what Surah Al-Ikhlas says about Allah’s family.
|As-Sami (the All-Hearer)||· Stuff cotton in everybody’s ears and then speak to them in a whisper. Alternatively play Chinese Whispers and see how we may understand things incorrectly when not spoken loudly. Discuss how Allah can hear even our thoughts.|
|Al-Baseer (the All-Seeing One)||· Give children some candy and ask them to hide it somewhere where no one can see them and eat the candy. Later on, reinforce that there is no place on earth or space in which we can do anything without Allah being able to see us.|
|Al-Khaliq (the Creator)||· Ask the kids to make something from scratch such as a paper boat or cookies. Then discuss the origin of the paper (which comes from wood, which comes from trees that Allah made). Make them realize that everything “man-made” is also made by Allah.|
|Ar-Razzaq (the Provider)||· Allah provides for the smallest of ants and the most microscopic of bacteria! Discuss all kinds of creations that He provides for.|
|Ar-Rahman (the Merciful)||· Talk about His mercy. Discuss ways in which we can be merciful to others|
|Al-Ghafoor (the Forgiving One)||· Talk about how Allah forgives again and again and again. Give a scenario to discuss how we would feel if a friend did the same mistake again and again and apologized every time. Would we forgive him or her a hundred times? Does Allah?|
|Al-Aleem (the All-Knowing)||· Talk about the different professions and careers and the years it takes to study them. How many people can we name who know ‘everything’? Talk about Allah’s knowledge. Discuss the importance of gaining knowledge and recognizing Allah.|
|Al-Hafeez (The Protector)||· Talk about the kinds of possible dangers we face every day, from natural disasters, threats from animals, accidents, evil people, Shaytan, and so on. How many times a day do bad things happen to us? Who is the One protecting us?|
|As-Saboor (the Patient)||· How is Allah patient? How can we be patient?|
4- Reinforcing with arts, crafts, and fun activities
Arts, crafts, and games are a lot of fun for kids and a great medium for reinforcing any concept. Some ideas are:
- Making a Names of Allah collage: pasting each name that has been learnt on a chart and decorating it.
- Badges: Making badges of the names they have understood to remind them of the virtues they must adopt such as As-Saboor or Al-Ghafoor
- Field trips: go on field trips that may help reinforce Allah’s names, such as going to the orphanage when doing Ar-Rahman, the Merciful because we have been enjoined to be merciful to the orphans.
- Games: such as hide and seek for Al-Baseer and As-Sami, Quiz Games for Al-Aleem, Origami for Al-Khaliq and so on.
- Crafts: Make crafts that correspond to each name. Making “the Creations” book with all kinds of unique creations of Allah corresponds to Al-Khaliq, making a family tree for Al-Ahad and so on.
5- Using auditory and visual aids
Listening to and learning the Asma ul-Husna nasheed (without music) is a great auditory aid. Play it in the car or in the house as often as possible so that your children learn it even without trying. Knowing all the names by heart will familiarize them with the words themselves and the meaning will sink in better when discussed if the name is at least familiar to the children. There are other nasheeds available that talk about specific names of Allah that can be played for the children as well.
There are also some very nice programmes and cartoons online that can be seen, which are related to the names of Allah and are great visual aids to reinforce their learning. Some suggestions are Misri Bunch: Names of Allah series, Allah’s Names by Zaky Beat, lectures by various scholars on specific names of Allah, and several other videos. There are some great iPad and Smartphone apps that can also help reinforce Allah’s names as well.
6- Give your children the opportunity to teach others
Learning is best supplemented by teaching what you know to others. Have your children teach what they have learnt to their cousins, younger siblings, or friends. You could help them make a small video about what they have learnt and send it out to their grandparents, aunts, and uncles. This exercise will not only secure what you have taught them, but the more they talk about Allah, the more they will get to love him. Tell them of this Hadith Qudsi so that they take pleasure in this activity:
“Allah the Most High says: I am just as My slave thinks I am, (that is, I am able to do for him what he thinks I can do for him) and I am with him if He remembers Me. If he remembers Me in himself, I too remember him in Myself; if he remembers Me in a group of people, I remember him in a group that is better than they; if he comes one span nearer to Me, I go one cubit nearer to him; if he comes one cubit nearer to Me, I go a distance of two outstretched arms nearer to him; if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.” (Bukhari)
Ruhaifa Adil is a mother of four, a practising Muslimah, an avid reader, and a passionate writer. She works primarily as a trainer for mothers and teachers, advocating a multi sensorial, learner-centred approach, which she has learnt through her work as a remedial specialist for children with dyslexia. She is also an author of English textbooks, based on the teachings of the Quran (currently under editing), and creative director of a Tafseer app for kids. Her latest project is Qutor.com, a website that helps connect Quran teachers and students.
© IIPH 2016