It all begins at home – the very first school offering real education.
By JAVAID AHMAD WAGAY
Education is composed of clear objective of human recognisation of Allah -the ultimate
reality. As islam considers education a very essential tool to mould human thoughts and life so its education system has a potential to lead not only indiduals but civilizations to the pinnacle. As we all know the first word revealed to Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) from Allah through Gabriel was ‘Iqra’ – meaning ‘Read’. Still there are millions of Muslims in the world who cannot read and write. As a matter of fact, Reading and Writing are not the ‘education’ as such. They are tools or means through which we can educate ourselves. Education opens your mind and heart and brings closer to your Lord Creator. The more you know, the more you are convinced that you need God in every step of life. You are nothing without Him. If we are not connected with our base, we are lost. It is the right of the Muslim children to be Islamically educated. Most of us agree to the fact that they must be educated, but the focus is not Islamic. We always hope seeing them acquire high degrees and becoming various professions, which all are out of Islamic Knowledge and Islam respectively. When the Prophet MUHAMMAD(S.A.W ) said seeking knowledge is compulsory upon every Muslim, he meant Islamic knowledge. Gaining other knowledge is beneficial; one should not see it otherwise, but Islamic knowledge is the most important, which should begin from the early stages, and should be the foundation on which the child’s life in general is built. The first word a child should learn if possible should be Allah, rather than baba and mama. When the child is at the stage of recognizing, memorizing and putting words together, he should be taught ‘Allah is above’, among other short sentences concerning Allah and/or Islam. Also the child should be taught that He knows and sees everyone. In general, the love and the fear of Allah should be instilled in them from the very beginning. Their upbringing should revolve around the faith of ‘La ilaaha illalah’ (there is no god worthy of worship except Allah); thus making this statement part and parcel of their daily conversations.
The existence of paradise and hell should be discussed with them even in their early years in life. Also, they should be reminded more often, of the result of disobeying Allah, which is being punished in the hell fire and dwelling in it forever. Western upbringing negates this particular claim in the sense that children are not supposed to be subjected to horrible and scary teachings except love, but the reality is such teachings rather draw them closer to Allah the more, which make them righteous and faithful servant as they grow up, and importantly, Allah teaches about paradise and hell so the child should be aware of it. It should be fed to them in a simple manner that doing good things takes one to paradise and doing bad takes one to hell. There is no need going into the real details of paradise and hell, but simply they just should know that there is a good and a bad place and should always try to avoid the bad place, in this way, they will be doing righteous deeds all the time. They should know about the Day of Judgement, so they would know that they will be held accountable for everything they do while on earth. They should also be made known of the fact that Allah sees all that they do even in secret.
Also, the love for the Prophet MUHAMMAD(S.A.W ) because that is part of the Shahadah (the Islamic creed); which explains “There is no god worthy of worship except Allah and Prophet MUHAMMAD(S.A.W ) is the messenger of Allah” should be the greatest symbol of their lives, and their heroes should be the Prophet MUHAMMAD(S.A.W ) and the other prophets too, not superheroes or superman. The children should be made to know about the Prophet MUHAMMAD(S.A.W ) in a way of telling them stories (as children naturally love stories) about his lifetime on earth, his way of life, how he ruled, how Islam was sent through him, how he led people to righteousness, etc., and even stories of the Sahabas. This would only be possible if parents go about in an interesting way like using the stories of the Prophet and the Sahabas as bed time stories, weekends storytelling topics, etc. On the other hand, the children should be enlightened on formal education for aqeedah and akhlaaq.
They should start observing the obligatory Salah even if they are young, because the Prophet said that children should learn how to perform Salah at the age of seven Knowing Salah does not necessarily mean knowing the actions of it. You, as parents, get the reward when your children pray, fast and make hajj, the same way you get the punishment when they don’t, therefore, parents need to teach their children from the very basics of salat, that is; teaching them the names of the various obligatory salat, how to perform wudhu (ablution), what comes next after ablution, what to be said before, in-between and after the salat, teach them of their awrah, etc.
We should take advantage of their retentive memories in their early years and involve them in memorizing the Quran if possible. What greater favor can parents do for their children than impacting knowledge of the Quran in them! This should be done in an affectionate way by not teaching them the Quran with force and a stick over their head. Unfortunately, this is the method employed in many Quran teaching schools, and it destroys how passionate they are about learning the Quran because that zeal gets cooled off once they are being maltreated. Even though they do need some pressure to boost them up, but not to the extent as being seen around the Muslim world. Most of the children leave the madrasahs teaching them the Quran scared due to the way they are being beaten to memorize the Quran
Their daily experiences should be used to teach them about Islam in the sense of teaching the girls about modesty, hijab, chastity, the roles of women in Islam, etc., and teaching the boys about responsibility, the roles of fathers and husbands in Islam among others. Parents should always try as much as possible to manage ideal Islamic homes where the children will get easy access to Islamic libraries, books, tapes, CD’s, etc. Children are attracted to visuals, thus having these sufficient ranges of Islamic media will always make learning about Islam interesting and fun for them, and gradually their interest in visuals other than Islamic ones will die off and will have no interest in any destructive scenes from the western media. When very small children get hooked on tablets and smart-phones, says Dr. Aric Sigman, an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Fellow of Britain’s Royal Society of Medicine, they can unintentionally cause permanent damage to their still-developing brains. Too much screen time too soon, he says, “is the very thing impeding the development of the abilities that parents are so eager to foster through the tablets. The ability to focus, to concentrate, to lend attention, to sense other people’s attitudes and communicate with them, to build a large vocabulary-all those abilities are harmed.”, for example, our brains develop quickly and are particularly sensitive to the environment around us. In medical circles, this is called the critical period, because the changes that happen in the brain during these first tender years become the permanent foundation upon which all later brain function is built. In order for the brain’s neural networks to develop normally during the critical period, a child needs specific stimuli from the outside environment. These are rules that have evolved over centuries of human evolution, but-not surprisingly-these essential stimuli are not found on today’s tablet screens. When a young child spends too much time in front of a screen and not enough getting required stimuli from the real world, her development becomes stunted.
It’s our obligation to pass on the Divine message (Quranic education) to children so that they get an idea of the purpose of their lives. There are lessons for them in the Quranic stories of the Prophets. Those stories can definitely generate some interest among the younger generation to learn more about their faith and the ‘way of life’ – Islam. Above all, they will learn how to respect their parents and elder folks.
Children are remarkably perceptive. Their eyes always observe, their ears always listen, and their minds always process the messages they absorb. If they see us patiently provide a happy home atmosphere for family members, they will imitate that attitude for the rest of their lives. The wise parents realize that every day building-blocks are being laid for the child’s future. It all begins at home. Kids copy almost everything and if the parents are notcareful in what they are doing, they can destroy their children’s lives by being bad role-models. Home is the first school before schooling and parents are the first teachers. It is at home where the foundation of a child’s life is laid. A good foundation makes a building solid and secure. It is called ‘Tarbiah’ (or Tarbiat) or upbringing. When we went to school, we didn’t have the luxury of computers, tablets, smart phones and other electronic equipment. We got our education from the parents, teachers and the library books. Today, we want to buy every new gadget for our kids. We even give our smart phones to 3-4 years old kids to play with. And we take pride in that. We don’t realize that these electronic gadgets can harm our kids physically, damage their abilities and hamper their natural growth. Some of the damage can be for life.Parenets of today are so proud of saying that my kid is very fast he knows how to use smartphones.
When you impart awareness, guidance or education by telling your children, your family members, your friends, neighbors and others what is good and what is bad; what they should be doing and what they should not be doing, you are not only doing your duty to Allah (Amr bil maaroof wa nahi-a anil munkar). You will be rewarded for that. Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) said that telling somebody something good is also charity. So, you get rewarded for charity.
JAVAID AHMAD WAGAY